In the final event before the Olympics next month, skaters converge on Taipei to hon their programs and in some cases, finish their season strong. This is the fourth time Taiwan has hosted the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.
Men: Japan’s Shoma Uno leads the field this weekend, as he tunes up for the Olympics next month. He won his second national championship and finished 2nd in the Grand Prix Final this season. His main challenger is Boyang Jin of China, who is ranked 6th in the world by the ISU. He’s also heading to Pyeongchang next month having won his 4th national title and finished 2nd at Cup of China. Jason Brown of the United States missed the podium at nationals with a 6th place finish, thus missing out on the Olympics. In Grand Prix action, he finished 2nd at Skate Canada. Uzbekistan’s Misha Ge is the country’s lone representative this weekend and he’s one of the contenders for the podium. He grabbed his first top three finish in Grand Prix competition with a 3rd place finish at Internationaux de France.
Skaters to Watch – 26 other skaters participating this weekend have a chance to improve their standing internationally. Others look to get ready for next month’s Olympics, including 2014 Olympic Bronze medalist, Denis Ten, who has struggled since then with 8th (Internationaux de France) and 9th (Rostelecom Cup) place finishes in Grand Prix competition this season. Japan’s Keiji Tanaka also will get ready for the Olympics with this competition. He was 2nd at nationals and his best finish was 7th at Cup of China. Max Aaron had a poor showing at nationals, finishing 9th, but will look to get back on his game this weekend. Canada’s Kevin Reynolds looks to end his skating career with a strong showing this weekend. Other skaters looking to make the podium includes China’s Han Yan, Canada’s Nam Nguyen and Japan’s Takahito Mura.
1. Shoma Uno (JPN)
2. Boyang Jin (CHN)
3. Misha Ge (UZB)
Ladies: Japan’s Satoko Miyahara is about to realize her Olympic dream next month. But first, she’ll skate at 4CC, where she’s the favorite this weekend. She won her 4th national title. However, teammate and defending 4CC champion Mai Mihara looks to finish strong after missing out on her Olympic dream. The prospect of a Japanese sweep is possible with the addition of world junior bronze medalist, Kaori Sakamoto, who finished 2nd at Skate America this season. However, American Mariah Bell may have something to say about it, as she was 6th at last year’s 4CC. Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva also looks to get ready for the Olympics. Her best finish was 5th at Internationaux de France.
Skaters to Watch – American Ashley Wagner withdrew from her 4CC assignment, so this will be the first appearance in senior international competition of Starr Andrews. She wowed the crowd in the free skate at nationals earlier this month. Dabin Choi of Korea looks to carry the tradition left by Yuna Kim for her home country’s Olympics. She finished 9th at Cup of China. Canada’s Alaine Chartrand leads a contingent of three ladies looking to medal. Michelle Long and Alicia Pineault skate in their first senior competitions this weekend.
1. Satoko Miyahara (JPN)
2. Mai Mihara (JPN)
3. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN)
Pairs: The most anticipation this weekend will from the team from Australia. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya & Harley Windsor put the country on the map for figure skating as they won the first championship in the country’s history at the Junior Grand Prix Final. They look to continue the hot streak this weekend as they skate in their first senior competition. The other story of this weekend will be the appearance of North Korea’s Tae Ok Ryom & Ju Sik Kim. The IOC approved their participation at the Winter Olympics and this week’s competition will be a warm-up for the two skaters. They were 7th at 4CC in 2016. Canada’s Liubov Ilyushechkina & Dylan Moscovitch missed out on a trip to Pyeongchang with a 4th place finish at nationals. They look to finish their season with a strong showing in Taipei.
Skaters to Watch – Reigning World and 4CC champions Wenjing Sui & Cong Han have withdrawn from the event, leaving no representation from China. With only 11 teams participating, former US pairs Champions Tarah Kayne & Danny O’Shea have a chance to make the podium. They were 2nd at nationals, but with only 1 spot available, they were out of the running for the Olympics. Teammates Deanna Stellato & Nathan Bartholomay were 3rd at nationals and have an 8th place finish at Skate America this season.
1. Liubov Ilyushechkina & Dylan Moscovitch (CAN)
2. Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya & Harley Windsor (AUS)
3. Tae Ok Ryom & Ju Sik Kim (PRK)
Ice Dance: With many of the top teams heading to the Olympics, much of the focus will be on teams that were successful on the junior ranks. That brings up the rivalry between Rachel & Michael Parsons and Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter. Both teams have been head to head on the junior level, with McNamara & Carpenter winning nationals twice and the Parsons once. Both have won world junior championships. They’ll both fight it out for supremacy. Teammates Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker have the potential for an American sweep, something that has never happened in US skating history. They were 4th at nationals, missing out on the Olympics. One team that could eliminate that possibility are Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed of Japan. Reed will skate in his third consecutive Olympics next month, his first with Muramoto.
Skaters to Watch – A new generation of Canadian Ice Dance make their first appearance at 4CC with Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus. They were 4th at nationals and finishe 7th at Skate Canada this season. China’s Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu won their 2nd national title and have a 6th place finish at Cup of China. Korea’s Yura Min & Alexander Gamelin will use this week’s competition as a warm up for Pyeongchang. They won their country’s 2nd ice dance title.
1. Rachel & Michael Parsons (USA)
2. Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA)
3. Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA)