Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2013
March 10, 2013
By Atsuko Kuryu
Photos © Keiko Kasai
The 2013 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships were held in Osaka, Japan, from 8th to 11th of February. It started with the Short dance, followed by Pair’s and Men’s short programs on the first day. The Ladies’ short program began on the 9 th, the second day. Eighty-five skaters from 13 ISU federations have been entered for the Championships.
Ice Dance: Short Dance
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir won the short dance with consistent and beautiful excursion. Their performance was not so dramatic or dynamic, but technically on a high level and very expressive. They got 75.12 points, which was enough for them to gain the small gold medals.
The audience loved Meryl Davis/Charlie White better and they gave this team a standing ovation, applause filling the arena. Meryl and Charlie had some technical flaws but were quite attractive with wonderful speed and vivid movement.
Madison Chock/Evan Bates showed very fast and well-synchronized spin twizzles and smooth action. They got 65.44 points (their season’s best) and placed 3rd.
Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani performed a really solid ice dance program but Alex stumbled during the synchronized twizzles, which are usually their best element. Their score was 63.26. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier’s performance was highlighted with a complex movement during their rotational Lift. They got 60.20 points and came 5th. Japan’s Cathy Reed/Chris Reed performed a solid program to gain 53.97 and placed 6th. Their spins didn’t go very well, but other elements were relatively nice.
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford showed an exceptionally wonderful performance which was so nice that the audience sighed with satisfaction after they finished their routine. When the score appeared on the scoreboard Meagan loudly exclaimed “Wow!”, which showed how the score was higher than they expected. 70.11 points is their personal best.
Second were Kristine Moor-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch who featured a quick and fully rotated throw twist and big throw jump. Their lift was also beautiful. They received 66.33 points for their effort. Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir were third because Marissa fell on the landing of their throw triple Salchow, but other than that they had a quite clean program with good musicality. They got 53.06 points. Felisia Zhang/Nathan Bartholomay followed them with 52.98 points, just 0.08 behind.
Although a lot of couples showed wonderful performances, today’s highlight was the men’s competition. There were lots of stunning performances without mistakes or at least with just one mistake or two. Yuzuru Hanyu skated last and finished first after the short program with the score of 87.65. He opened his program with an easy and gorgeous quad toe, and landed the triple Axel cleanly but popped the first jump of triple Lutz-triple toe combination into single Lutz. But he collected himself for the rest to win the small gold medal.
With little surprise, Han Yan and Richard Dornbush became second and third respectively. Han’s opening triple Axel was easy and high followed by a big quad toe. His smooth and beautiful step sequence enchanted the audience who burst into standing ovation at his finish of a fast and well controlled combination spin. His technical score of 47.30 was the highest of the day (85.08 overall), while Dornbush received the second highest technical score 45.48 (83.01 overall). His solid performance with amazing jumps (quad toe, triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe) was so appealing that the audience felt time went so fast during his performance. He might have left nothing on the ice tonight.
Tonight’s favorite, Daisuke Takahashi, came up with a new program, Moonlight Sonata. I would like to refrain from commenting on this decision because he had some mistakes technically and you can’t evaluate a program when a skater is not in good condition. He stepped out his quad-toe and fell after landing his triple Axel which landed him in 4th place with the score of 82.62. His step sequence was attractive as usual but somehow didn’t seem to follow the music yet.
Nan Son showed a flawless and powerful performance to get 81.16 and came 5th. He looked quite satisfied with his performance and held up his both fists to the sky on his knees immediately after the performance was over and of course the audience was quite satisfied too. They gave him a standing ovation and his performance deserved it!
Kevin Reynolds attempted the quad Salchow and quad toe and it seemed to be landed alright so the audience booed when they heard the score of 78.34, however, both jumps were regarded as under-rotated. But he gave an amazing performance and he was rewarded accordingly in the Program Component Score (PCS).
Denis Ten and Takahito Mura became 7th and 8th with the difference of just 0.1 point. (78.04 and 78.03 respectively). Denis excluded the quad toe and stepped out of the combination jump. Other than that his performance was quite fast and passionate. Takahito, who also stepped out his combination of quad toe-triple toe, somehow lost his energy compared with his performance at Nationals.
May I mention one more skater who was enthusiastically eager to come to 4CC - Misha Ge. He placed 12th, but his unique performance enchanted the Japanese audience and was welcomed with a standing ovation after he finished with his passionate and original step sequence.
Han Yan (CHN)
"Today I was able to keep calm and do everything with the same energy level as my practice so I was able to show everything I needed to in my performance. Going into tomorrow’s free program, of course, I need to remain calm and do everything I can on the ice."
Richard Dornbush (USA)
"I was very happy with the way I skated my short program this evening mostly because I just received the call a few days ago that I was able to attend this event."
Ladies’ short program
Mao Asada nailed the triple Axel and won the small medal with a big margin of 8.85. Her playful short program delighted the whole crowd. She also landed triple flip-double loop combination and triple loop both cleanly rotated. She collected +GOE for all of her elements from all the judges with just one exception of -2 for her triple loop. Her step sequence which she said was her favorite part of the program, evaluated as level 4 and gained +2GOE. As soon as her performance was over there was a roaring of applause. Her score was 74.49 which was her season’s best, and also the best of all ladies at any ISU official competition.
Akiko Suzuki followed her with the score of 65.65. Even though the scores were quite different, it didn’t necessarily mean her performance was less attractive. After weaker appearances in two consecutive competitions, all the Japanese fans were worried about her condition. So, when Akiko came out onto the ice, the arena filled with cheers for Akiko and they oohed and aahed over her every element. Akiko was well rewarded by the audience for her flawless performance. Her program featured a gorgeous step sequence carried out at great speed.
Kanako Murakami stayed third with another flawless performance. She changed her costume to pale pink with glittering stones over its body and it suited the image of this program very well. She tried to be expressive and graceful and it seemed to be done very well. She looked really feminine for her age. Her score was 64.06.
Christina Gao looked magnificent when she performed her program to Close Without Touching. Landing all the jumps successfully, she skated to the music very gracefully to get 62.34, her season’s best score. She seemed to improve both technically and expressively after she moved to her new coach.
The youngsters from North America were a little bit off on that day. Gracie Gold managed to stay 6th after making mistakes on her jumps. She seemed a little slower than her usual pace, however, she finally scored 60.36. Kaetlyn Ozmond had amazing speed but lacked some expressiveness. Her only significant mistake was the fall on the triple flip. Even though her PCS was almost on a par with Gracie, she couldn’t catch up with her Technical Element Score (TES) by 3.43, and came 8th. From China, Kexin Zhang showed a solid performance to place 6th (57.56) and Agnes Zawadzki from U.S. was 8th (57.45) after she fell on her double Axel.
Mao Asada (JPN)
"This is the first time I’ve landed my triple Axel in my short program this season. I was in good condition since I came here. The moment I jumped I was 99% sure I was going to land it (triple Axel). My condition has been improving since Nationals."
Gracie Gold (USA) 2013 National silver medallist
"I thought today was an ok program; it wasn’t my best but I stood up on everything and I skated clean so I was happy. This Four Continents for me is about experience. I haven’t had many international competitions, so the experience was amazing to be able to skate with world champions and world medalists such as Mao Asada."
Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)
"I am happy with my performance. I made a mistake so I was expecting this score. This year I have been more confident at everything I have done. Just to go out there and skate for the fun of it and not aim for anything too high has been good for me this year. I am just hoping to go out there and have fun and to learn from this experience."
Men’s free skate
What an exciting competition! Before this event started, most thought the winner, or at least the winning country, would have been pre-determined, however, the result was something you hadn’t expected. Kevin Reynolds won the title, sixteen year old Han Yan won a bronze medal, and Daisuke Takahashi, the favorite, was 7th overall.
Kevin nailed three quads in the free skate; 2 quad toes and 1 quad Salchow. He gained positive Grade of Execution (+GOE) for all of his elements, plus he got an higher PCS than he usually received. Of course his performance was stunning. The excitement of the crowd was gradually growing bigger and bigger as his performance went on. They erupted into applause even during his last spin and took some time to quiet down after his performance was over. He got 172.21 for his free skate and 222.77 overall.
To our surprise, bouncing back from the disappointed 10th in short program, U.S. champion Max Aaron came 2nd in the free skate. He landed two quadruple Salchows, 2 triple Axels and 5 other triples successfully. His only significant mistake was the hand down at his ending triple loop. He also had amazing speed. His total score for the free skate was 162.19 to place 4th (234.65) overall.
The overnight leader, Yuzuru Hanyu, seemed to lose his usual power. Although he landed his opening quadruple toe solidly and 2 triple Axels, he could nail only 3 triples (supposed to be 5), and doubled the quadruple Salchow. His score for the free skate was 158.73. Finally he managed to stay 2nd and make the podium with the score of 246.32.
Richard Dornbush stepped out his solo quadruple toe just after landing a wonderful quad toe-double toe combination. Additionally he made some minor mistakes during his performance which cost him a podium place. He was 5th overall and his score of 234.04 was just 1.18 points less than Han Yan, who won the bronze medal. Two rising stars from China came 5th and 6th.
Han Yan, who was the 2011 World Junior Champion, showed fantastic skating skills during his performance. He fell on his quadruple toe which followed his opening gorgeous triple axel-triple toe combination, when he seemed to injure his shoulder. He lost some power then but collected himself very well later. His performance was not as fantastic as his short program but enough to make the podium. His total score was 235.22 with the free skate score of 150.14.
Nan Son did great, too. He touched down on his opening quadruple toe and couldn’t make the combination as he had planned. He was 6th in free skate with 147.30 and 6th overall with 228.46. Ross Miner has amazing speed. He singled his opening quad Salchow and triple Axel but other than those, he did pretty well. He placed 7th in free skate (140.35) but because of a mediocre short program he was only 9th overall.
For Daisuke Takahashi, it was not his competition. He two-footed his opening quadruple toe and 3 of his jumps were regarded as under-rotated. He also landed 2 solo triple Axels. Collecting level 4 for all of his spins was the only good news for him. His technical score was 58.81 which was only 18th of this category. He was 8th (140.05) in the free skate and 7th overall (222.77).
Takahito Mura got the flu and maybe that was the reason why he lost some power. His free skate got just 140.05 and he placed a disappointing 8th overall (218.08). Denis Ten came 17th (119.21) in the free program as his jumps weren’t executed. That a graceful skater like him couldn’t jump was a tragedy.
Kevin Reynolds (CAN)
"This was completely beyond anything I could have expected. I knew I was in the range of medals if I did everything in my free program. Right now I am in a very good position heading into the Winter Olympic Games. My focus is on the World Championships and making the top six."
Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)
"I am full of disappointment, but after I was done, I felt refreshed and relieved. Regarding my performance, there is a lot I need to improve upon. But I have not lost my confidence and I know there are still a lot of things I can do better. (Heading into the World Championships) I need to practice both quad toeloop and Salchow together."
Han Yan (CHN)
"I hurt my shoulder on my second jump (quad toe), and started to feel my old injuries. I grew more anxious through the program, but overall I feel satisfied with this event."
Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch won the title though they were just second in the free skate, while Meagan Dhuhamel/Eric Radford won the free skate but couldn’t reach the top overall. Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir showed a solid performance and grabbed the bronze medal.
Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch gave a brilliant performance with good speed. Their movements were vivid and smooth and left a glamorous impression. It was really attractive even though Kirsten fell on the landing of the throw triple loop. Their score was 130.45 for the free skate and 196.76 overall.
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford couldn’t bring the same excitement to their free skate; somehow they lacked speed and didn’t seem to match the music. The crowd knew how they did so they were quiet after their performance. But the score was high enough to win the title (128.74 for the free skate, 199.18 overall). Everyone appreciated their lifts which were smooth and difficult.
Two pairs from U.S. followed these Canadian teams. Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir skated solidly but Simon singled both jumps of attempted 2A2t combination and their side-by-side combination spin was not synchronized. They were third overall with the score of 170.10 (117.04 for the free skate). Felicia Zhang/Nathan Bartholomay gave a very impressive free skate. They move fast and somehow resonated with the audience despite a fall on the throw triple lutz. They were 4th overall as well as in the SP and free skate.
Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN)
Moore-Towers: "We feel great about our performance. It is a bit unfortunate that we lost the Championship on an element we do easily all the time, but we don’t intend on that happening next time and I think overall we are very pleased with how we performed."
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN)
Duhamel: "This is not our season’s best. We made a couple of changes in our program; we really worked on the artistic side and today we saw an improvement in the artistic scores since the Grand Prix Final. Today we had to fight for everything. Today we showed all we have but for the Worlds, we have more."
Japan swept the podium. Mao Asada won the title by a big margin to Akiko Suzuki who gave an energetic performance to place 2nd. Kanako Murakam, who showed improvement in her expressiveness, placed 3rd. Also polishing her expression was Christina Gao, who stayed 4th, the best rank among the U.S. ladies.
Mao again attempted triple Axel in the free skate but she two-footed it and got marked accordingly for under-rotation. She was also marked down for under rotation of two more jumps (both were second jumps of a combination), still her amazing skating skills and fantastic spins keep her first in the free skate as well as the short program. Her step sequence and choreographic sequence got a big +GOE and of course it was fabulous enough for the audience to give a standing ovation. Her score was 130.56 in the free skate and 205.45 which topped Akiko by some 15 points.
Akiko popped the first jump of her second combination; attempted double Axel to a single which was the only significant mistake from her. Her step sequence went along to the music very well and the choreography was so beautiful and elegant. Her total score was 190.08 overall (124.43 for the free skate).
Kanako’s free skate was highlighted by an elegant choreographic sequence and gorgeous spins. She nailed 7 triples but singled the triple Axel. She gained 116.99 for her free skate and 181.03 overall. Zijun Li bounced back to 4th from 10th after the short program and placed 5th overall (170.42). The impression of her free skate was great even though two of her jumps were regarded as under-rotated. She was so adorable and her routine, Sleeping Beauty was just right for her age and style of performance. Her technical score of 61.69 was the second highest following Mao’s 63.20.
Christina Gao again skated very well in the free skate to gain 113.94. Her Leibrtango might not be very passionate but it is elegant and beautiful. Gracie Gold was 6th with 106.30 and Kaetlyn Osmond was 7th with 103.16. Both of them had many mistakes on their jumps. Gracie’s step sequence was so fluid and splendid that the audience gave her generous applause for that element. Kaetlyn seemed to be a struggling, after stumbling during her step sequence. I have to say both of them had gorgeous spins. Agnes Zawadzki, who came 8th in the free skate, also provided wonderful spins, while the step sequence from Amelie Lacoste, 9 th, was fantastic.
Mao Asada (JPN)
"I was happy that I was able to challenge my triple Axel and triple-triple combo. Moreover, the outcome of both jumps was great as well, which made me happy. At this competition, Coach Nobuo Sato told me that "There is nothing more I can comment on for the technical side, so don't forget your fighting spirits." Together with my result at this event, I was able to realize that my jumps are back to the level I was at during the Vancouver Olympics."
Akiko Suzuki (JPN)
"I am very happy with the result. Recently I was in poor condition, so I feel relieved this time. I skated from the bottom of my heart."
Ice Dance: Free Dance
What a dramatic couple Meryl/Charlie was! Watching them skating always makes the audience think about its story. Their vivid and fantastic performance excited the audience, who gave a standing ovation and huge applause for their performance. They were not only expressive but also technically great, especially with their stunning steps and amazing lifts. They gained 112.96 for their performance, and got the gold medal with 187.36 points.
This must have been a bad day for Tessa/Scott because they suddenly had to stop just after the circular step sequence because Tessa had leg cramp. A few minutes later, they resumed their performance, as though nothing had happened. They gained a big +GOE for all of their elements. Their Carmen routine seemed not to be too hot as you usually expect for Carmen, however they have class and sophistication against Meryl/Charlie’s energy and entertainment. Their score for the free dance was 109.20 and 184.32 overall. They are definitely the best two ice dancers today and almost dead even. So we can’t wait for the World’s in March.
Piper/Paul gave quite a wonderful performance to place third in the free skate (97.63) but 5th overall (157.83). They were excited about their score, especially Piper who shouted out when she saw the score on the board.
Maia / Alex were 4th overall (159.97) because again Alex stumbled on the twizzles. Until last season the fast twizzles was their favorite trick but somehow it didn’t go well, at least during this competition.
Chock/Bates did pretty well but they lost a few points on the twizzles and the diagonal footwork. They got 94.98 points to come 5th in the free dance but remained 3rd overall (160.42).
Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA)
White: "Really happy with the performance today. It wasn’t the easiest one to get through necessarily, but for us it was a great experience to be able to fight through the program like that. Technically it was there, emotionally it was there. At the end we were tired, but I think this is a good thing because it meant were pushing ourselves as hard as we could. I’m really proud with the effort, I’m proud with everything, this competition, how it was run from the beginning to the end. We’re just getting home and start training for Worlds."
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN)
Moir: "Tessa and I feel, as a team, we have a lot of positive things to take from this week, especially in our short dance. In the free dance, we were able to execute a lot of the elements that we’ve been struggling with in practice and a little bit at the National Championships. Obviously there is a couple of things we want to work on going into the World Championships. We know what we have to do, luckily. We’re about a month away and we’re excited about it. Virtue: (on the interruption) I just had some cramp in my legs to deal with. I’m glad we collected ourselves and kept pushing through the program. I can’t wait to get home and deal with this problem. I think we’ll be back on track in no time and excited to train really hard for Worlds."
Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA)
Bates: "Maddie and I are very happy with how the whole week went. I think for us, every time we get a chance to compete, it is a big experience for us and this is our first ISU Championships together, so considering that, I think we did a great job, considering all the factors, competing in Japan, competing late at night, having to fight through the free dance."