2014 FOUR CONTINENTS RECAP

Articles, Articles by Anne Calder, Event Coverage

The 2014 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships were held in Taipei City, Taiwan, January 20-25. The annual event was established in 1999 to provide the premier skaters from Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas a “warm-up” competition prior to Worlds similar to the European Competition.  However, in 2014, as in previous Olympic years, the top skaters skipped the event in lieu of an Olympic assignment. Entrants included non-Olympic qualifiers, those passed over by their Federation, and the “B” level skaters who used the event to gain international experience.

TIDBITS

  • There were 92 competitors from 17 countries.
  • The gold medals were won by China, Japan (2), and the United States.
  • There were 11 Sochi Olympic competitors:

Misha Ge (UZB)                   Brooklee Han (AUS)             Kanako Murakami (JPN)

Brendan Kerry (AUS)          Hae Jin Kim (KOR)                 So Youn Park (KOR)

Dennis Ten (KAZ)              Zijun Li  (CHN)                      Kexin Zhang  (CHN)

Danielle O’Brian + Gregory Merriman (AUS)

  • Sochi Olympians, Kanako Murakami (JPN) and Zijun Li (CHN) medaled.
  • The US or Canada has won all 16 Ice Dance gold medals since the first 4CC.
  • China has won 12 gold medals in Pairs since the first 4CC.
  • Sui/Han (CHN) are the only three time World Junior Medalists to compete at 4CC.
  • Pairs’ competitor, Daniel O’Shea (USA) was 2008 US Novice Men’s Champion.
  • There were 12 former Junior World medalists and 2 former Senior medalists at the 2014 4CC.
  • Pang/Tong (CHN) have won 5 gold medals in Pairs at the 4CC.
  • Haven and Cadee Denney (USA) are the only sisters to compete at the 4CC.
  • Seoul, Korea will host the 2015 4CC.
  • Taipei City, Tawain will host the 2016 4CC event.

 2014 ISU FOUR CONTINENTS ICE DANCE RECAP
HUBBELL/DONOHOE DANCE AWAY WITH GOLD MEDAL

 PODIUM

  1. (USA)   Madison Hubbell/Zachory Donohoe    158.25 Total
  2. (CAN)   Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier                          153.71 Total
  3. (USA)   Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton         144.95 Total

 SHORT DANCE

In the Short Dance, Canadians, Gilles/Poirier, earned Level4 for their twizzles and lift. “I’d say this is our best performance yet”, said Gilles after placing first. Hubbell/Donohoe were the only team to receive Level4 for both their Finn Step patterns. However, Hubble bobbled her twizzle for a Level3.  In spite of a personal best score, the Americans placed 1.33 points behind the Canadians. Aldridge/Eaton, first timers at the 4CC, had a season’s best score and placed third. Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill (CAN) are fourth, Nicole Orford/Thomas Williams (CAN) fifth, and Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giuletti-Smith (USA) sixth.

FREE DANCE

In the free program, Hubbell/Donohoe mesmerized the audience with a romantic and tender performance to “Nocturne” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”.  The seamless program effortlessly wove from one element to the next. The 2014 US pewter medalists left all their emotions on the ice. They received a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd and first place scores from the judges. “I feel that we finally have proven ourselves as a strong, consistent team that deserves to be at the top”, said Hubbell. Their 97.20 score bettered a previous personal best by five points.  Gilles/Poirer opened their innovative program to the Hitchcock soundtrack with an impressive Level4 stationary lift on one foot, but lost points with. their Level2 diagonal step element.  The mood of the highly dramatic presentation intensified with each beat of the bold music. The skaters, dressed in black, wove a tangled web with Level4 rotational lifts to accentuate their suspenseful dark program.  Its 91.33 points dropped the Canadians to second place. “We’ve had a seasons best in both programs. Overall it’s been a really positive experience, and we’re pleased with the results”, nodded Poirier.  Aldridge/Eaton danced to a Bollywood medley and collected Level4 in all their lifts and one spin. The 2013 World Junior medalists struggled with unison on their twizzles (Level 3), but received a personal best 87.30 points. “We’re so excited and so honored to just be on the podium.  We couldn’t ask for much more, this being our first season as a senior team”, said Aldridge.  Fourth, fifth, and sixth places remained the same: Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill (CAN) 137.03, Nicole Orford/Thomas Williams (CAN) 133.42, and Lynne Kriengkrairut/Logan Giuletti-Smith (USA) 130.05.

 2014 ISU FOUR CONTINENTS PAIRS RECAP

SUI/HAN SOAR TO GOLD

 PODIUM

  1. (CHN)  Wenjing Sui/Cong Han                212.40 Total
  2. (USA)   Tarah Kayne/ Daniel O’Shea     181.45 Total
  3. (USA)   Alexa Scimeca/Chris Knierim   170.35 Total

 SHORT PROGRAM

The top three teams after the short program all received Leval4 for their spins, lifts, death spiral, and step sequence. Sui/Han scored a personal best 75.26 to take the lead and out-distance their closest competitor by almost 10 points. The Chinese team skated to La Strada.  The American team of Scimeca/Knierim lost points when she two-footed the 3F throw. They did, however, score a personal best 66.04 skating to, “Papa Can You Hear Me?” Third was Kayne/O’Shea, whose only previous International competitions were three “B” events. The team scored 62.05 for their clean skate to “James Bond”. 2013 World Junior Champions, Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) were fourth, followed by 2013 World Junior silver medalists, Margaret Purdy/Michael Marinaro (CAN).

 LONG PROGRAM

Sui/Han skated to “Kalinka”, nailing a “fly high and say goodbye” 4twist, 3T+2T+2T, 3S, 3FThrow, a Level4 Death spiral and Lift in the first half of the program. Their 1.1increased base value included two Level 4 lifts, a Level 3 Rotational lift, and a 3S Throw.  The dynamic duo received 137.14 points. “Today we gave our very best performance for the audience and the judges.  We are very pleased to have achieved a personal best score”, Han said. Kayne/O’Shea leapfrogged into second place with a stellar performance to Don Quixote. The almost clean program was marred when O’Shea fell after he caught Kayne on the triple twist. “It is a silly mistake, not something that happens very often and I was happy to be able to come back from it.  I just tripped over my own feet”, smiled O’Shea. The team received 119.40 points for the silver medal.  Scimeca/Knierim slipped to third place after their shaky skate to Ever After. The Colorado Springs duo received a score of 104.31 for the fourth place long program. Knierim fell on the planned 3S, and Scimeca two footed her 3LoThrow resulting in a -1.00 for the fall and negative GOE marks from the judges. “We didn’t put our best performance out in the long program, so that’s a little disappointing.  We did have a good short, so I think overall it was an okay event for us.  We’re excited to get the opportunity to come here and get the bronze medal”, Knierim said.  The 2013 World Junior gold medalists, Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) 167.10 took fourth place. Natasha Purich/Melvin Tran (CAN) 147.80 moved up to fifth from seventh.

2014 ISU FOUR CONTINENTS MEN’S RECAP
TAKAHITO MURA EARNS GOLD MEDAL

 PODIUM

  1. (JPN)   Takahito Mura         242.56 Total
  2. (JPN)    Takahiko Kozuka   236.38 Total
  3. (CHN)   Nan Song                  236.09 Total

 SHORT PROGRAM

Takahito Mura scored a personal best 84.21 to win the short program. Mura landed 4T, 3A, and 3Lz+3T. Two spins were Level 4, and a Level3 for his step sequence. “I was confident.  I was really dancing without thinking about anything else. That’s why the short program went really well”, Mura said about his skate. Richard Dornbush, had a mishap with his opening 4S, but went on to complete a 3A and three Level4 spins. His 3Lz+3T combination after the halfway mark scored 12.31 points. The Californian received 82.13 points. Nan Song had a season best score of 78.71. Song’s program included a strong 4T+3T, 3Lz and three Leval4 spins. He lost his concentration on the 3A, stumbled, and received all negative GOE marks from the judges. “The quad toe was really good, so I kind of relaxed and stumbled on the 3A”, quipped the Chinese skater.  Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) was fourth, followed by 2013 World silver medalist, Dennis Ten (KAZ).

LONG PROGRAM

Takahito Mura (JPN) was rewarded for his strong Shogun programwith a season best 158.35 points and a gold medal. The 22 year old opened with a powerful 4T, two combinations totaling 23 points and five more triples – eight triples in total. A sixth place finish at Japanese Nationals ended his Olympic dream. Frustrated, he originally planned to skip the 4CC. However, in Taipei he channeled that disappointment, refocused and set new goals. “After Nationals I forgot what it felt like to jump, but at 4CC I was able to accomplish what I wasn’t able to do at Nationals, and that’s what I want to do in the future for my career” commented Mura. Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) two-footed his opening 4T, but added six triples (four for bonus points) and three Level4 spins narrowly winning the long program. Skating to “Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso”.  The 2011 World silver medalist vaulted from fourth to second place with a season best 159.53 points. Kozuka placed third at Japanese Nationals, but was not chosen for Sochi. “I had a difficult time after I wasn’t chosen for the Olympic team. I didn’t know why I was skating for all this time. For the 4CC I was able to come out of it. There were so many people who came from Japan, and I’m such a happy man to have all these fans”, said Kozuka. Nan Song (CHN) opened The Mission program with a powerful 4T, turned the second quad into a 3T+2T combination, followed by a spectacular 3A+3T and four more triples. The 23-year old back ended his program with five jump passes and two Level4 spins to receive bonus points. Song commentated after the competition, “I made some mistake and tripled the second quad. So I lost some points there. But overall, I feel honored to be on the podium.”  Dennis Ten (KAZ), 2013 World silver medalist placed fourth with 226.37 points. Richard Dornbush (USA) dropped to fifth with 224.44 points, and Joshua Farris (USA) was sixth with 221.00 points.

 2014 ISU FOUR CONTINENTS LADIES RECAP
MURAKAMA SCORES A GOLD MEDAL

PODIUM

  1. (JPN)  Kanako Murakami   196.91 Total
  2. (JPN)  Satoko Miyahara      186.53 Total
  3. (CHN) Zijun Li                       181.56 Total

 SHORT PROGRAM

Kanako Murakami (JPN) scored a season best 64.73 points and won the Short Program. Opening with a solid 3T+ 3T combination, Murakama followed with a 3F and 2A. Her spins and step sequence earned all Level4. The 2010 World Junior Champion skated to “Violin Muse” by Ikuko Kawai. Murakami wasn’t originally enthused about the 4CC event, but told the press, “Now I’m glad I came”.  Zijun Li (CHN) tangoed her way through a 3F+3T combination, 3Lz, 2A and two Level4 spins and step sequence. Li earned a season best 62.84 points and second place. The excited 17 year-old, who landed the difficult combination for the first time in competition, smiled, “I prepared a long time for the 4CC’s, and it is thanks to my training that I was able to perform so well”. Haruka Imai (JPN) skated last and was greeted on the ice with waving signs and loud cheers. “Even before my performance, I could hear the applause and it made me feel that I’m not alone”, commented Imai.  She rewarded them with a personal best 62.72 points skated to Mendelssohn’s, “Song Without Words”.  Imai opened with a 2A, followed with a 3S+3T combination, and 3Lo. Two of the spins were Level4.   The 20 year-old scored over 60 points for the first time. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) placed fourth with 60.27 points.

 LONG PROGRAM

Kanako Murakami (JPN) won the gold medal with five clean triples and four Level4 elements. Skating to “Papa Can You Hear Me?” the 2013 Four Continents’ bronze medalist, earned a personal best 132.18 points and won her first senior ISU Championship title. The Sochi Olympian who will be competing against Japanese teammate, Mao Asada, and Korea’s Yu Na Kim, commented,  “This is an important competition and winning here means the next step for me”. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) nailed seven triples including three for bonus points. Two spins earned Level 4. The 15 year-old chose a mature Flamenco selection, “Poeta”, and earned a personal best 126.26 points.  The first-time 4CC competitor vaulted from into a second place and a silver medal. The youngster admitted being nervous, but added, “I know it will be a great start for next season. Today’s performance made me gain confidence”. Zijun Li (CHN) landed five solid triples and Level3 for her spins and step sequence. She turned the opening triple-triple combination into a 3F+2T and received negative GOE marks for the 3Lz wrong edge.  The17 year-old fell to third place. “I have to say I was still not in my best condition. I would like to make sure to bring out the best side of me at the Olympics”, said the three-time Chinese Champion.  The Lori Nichol choreographed program, “Coppelia”, earned 118.72 points.  Hanuka Imai (JPN) slipped from third to fourth place with175.40 points.  Courtney Hicks (USA) moved up from seventh to fifth with 169.99 points. Hae Jin Kim (KOR) finished sixth with 166.84 points.

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