2014 World Championships Conclude from Saitama, Japan
(3/29/14) - The 2014 World Championships concluded in Japan Saturday.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates, the U.S. silver medalists, finished fifth in their second World Championships together. They consider themselves a time on an upward swing and feel their performance here - they set personal best scores throughout - will propel them in the right direction.
"Now that we've experienced the World stage and the Olympic stage together we can have confidence in ourselves," Bates said. "Olympics was our main focus this year. Still the World Championships is the world championships. It's a huge event. The importance of this event wasn't lost on us. We came and skated well so it's good for us."
Their total score was 167.59 points after earning 99.88 for their Les Miserables free dance.
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani set a season-high free dance score of 95.02 points and totaled 158.57 overall. Like Chock and Bates, they used this event as a platform to set up their competitive future.
"I know we made a strong impression this week coming off the Olympics," Alex said. "For us especially we were aggressive and attacked every practice and every performance to make the most of the opportunity to show people what they can look forward to from us for the coming years."
In their Worlds debut, Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton finished 17th. They rebounded Saturday to have a strong free dance after a low-scoring short dance the day before. After earning 84.03 points for their free dance, their total score equaled 137.37.
"We wanted to come back strong. Yesterday was hard to handle but we knew we had another job to do today," Aldridge said. "It's not over after the short, you have to go a good free to end the competition well. We wanted to be happy with our free dance regardless of the results. We wanted to finish the season strong and use that to go into next season."
The race for the World title was extremely tight with 0.06 points separating the medalists. Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte came out as victors with 175.43 points. They shared the podium with Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (175.41) and France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (175.37).
Gracie Gold, the U.S. champion, finished fifth. Her free skate was not her best as she suffered mistakes on her double Axels. Always a competitor, she is already thinking forward to how she can improve in consistency next year.
"I need to complete the whole package," she said. "One competition it's lovey skating, one competition is lovely jumps. I have to work on putting the package together and getting better programs for next season."
Ashley Wagner performed her best free skate of the season, totaling 129.52 points. Her final score was 193.16 and she placed seventh. She plans to use the solid outing in Saitama as ammunition going into next season.
"It was so great for me to feel like I was back as a competitor," she said. "The great thing about the position I'm in is that I know this isn't my Worlds to win. I could use this as an opportunity to practice the way I wanted to be mentally. This Worlds was much more about how I want to feel going into next year. It was great for me to put out those programs and feel so solid."
Like Wagner, Polina Edmunds, who finished eighth, also turned in her best free skate of the year, earning 126.91 points and 187.50 overall. Edmunds burst onto the senior scene at the 2014 U.S. Championships but she credits her experience on the Junior Grand Prix for helping the transition from one level to another.
"I felt really comfortable here because of all the internationals I've done," she said. "(The) junior (level) has a very strong field as well so I gained a lot of experience from those competitions. It really prepared me for the senior competitions and I'm happy I was given the chance to compete here."
The ladies podium featured a flawless Mao Asada, who won her third World title, Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia and Italy's Carolina Kostner.
Team USA's finishes at 2014 World Championships:
Gold - 5 (5, 7)
Wagner - 7 (7, 4)
Edmunds - 8 (12, 5)
Abbott - 5 (8, 4)
Aaron - 8 (9, 8)
Castell and Shnapir - 11 (11, 11)
Zhang and Bartholomay - 14 (14, 14)
Chock and Bates - 4 (4, 5)
Shibutani and Shibutani - 6 (6, 6)
Aldridge and Eaton - 17 (18, 16)