Four Continents Championships: Recap

Men:

Of the three men who stood on the podium, only one is going to Worlds.  Takahashi bested the field and finally showed off the skills that won him his first World Championship and set him up nicely to regain his title.  The only hitch being that his score was still 15 points below Patrick Chan’s seasons best and that was before he added a second quad to his free skate.  This was a good step in the right direction for Takahashi but he still needs to step up his game.  Takahashi did go for the quad in his free skate but it was downgraded.

The young Hanyu ended his season here and rode two third place programs to a silver medal finish.  He’s added another layer to an already deep field in Japan and there will really be a horse race for the three worlds spots next season.  His jumps were one of the highlights of the competition and he received a +2 GOE on his quad and triple axel and a +1.86 GOE on his Triple axel + triple toe.

Jeremy Abbott was also ending his season at this competition and went out nicely with a bronze medal.  He put the quad into his free skate for the first time all season but fell and had the jump judged under-rotated.  Hopefully we’ll see this more consistently from him next season.

Kozuka made errors in the short program and despite a second best free skate, couldn’t pull up and grab a medal.  This unfortunately means he won’t have enough ISU points to overtake Oda and he’ll have to skate in the preliminary round at the World Championships.  He tried the quad in his free skate and while he fell, he was credited with the full rotation.

Adam Rippon continued to struggle with his triple axel and could only muster a 5th place finish here.  He doubled one of his axels in the free skate and had the other downgraded. He’ll need to work on this in the off-season if he wants to regain his footing among the world’s best next year.

The Canadian delegation struggled without Chan and placed 10th, 11th and 14th.  If Chan wins Worlds, the second Canadian man will need to finish no lower than 12th to maintain Canada’s three spots at Worlds, and this could be problematic if they skate the way they did here.

I had one exact prediction (Abbott won bronze) and correctly predicted 2/3 medal winners (Takahashi/Abbott)

Ladies:

Miki Ando bested her short program demons and was able to place 1st in both segments and overall.  She crossed the 200 mark for the first time in her career and is the first skater to do so this season.  She’s put herself in a good position to win another world title but will face Yu-Na Kim for the first time there.  She didn’t put out a triple-triple combination in her free skate here, but did have a double axel + triple toe and received positive GOEs on all the elements in her free skate.

Mao Asada also had a good event, winning silver and medaling for the first time all season.  Her jumps were not very clean and lots of little errors kept her from having a shot at the gold medal.  She’s reworking her jump technique this season and I expect this to continue to improve.  She had one triple axel in her free skate and received a positive GOE for it, but she also had one edge call and two under-rotated jumps.

Mirai Nagasu was finally able to show what she was capable of.  She came to a competition with no pressure or expectations and was able to walk away with the bronze medal in her final competition of the season.  She also posted the third highest score of the season overall.  Her problems have always been mental, and if she can overcome the pressure of being in first, she could really have a great season next year.

Rachael Flatt received great scores for her new short program and set new personal bests.  She also tried out a few new combinations here and while they weren’t perfect, I think she’s set herself up nicely to peak at Worlds and her scores here but her in the top 5 in the world.  She had a Double axel + triple loop in her free skate and plans to add a triple-triple for worlds.  She had Level 3s and 4s on all her spins with positive GOEs showing a major improvement for her.

Alissa Czisny didn’t have a great competition but said she didn’t feel as prepared as she would like.  I think she made great strides though as she fought through both her programs even when she made mistakes, which the Alissa of the past wouldn’t do.  On a bad day she’s still competitive with the rest of the world, but if she’s on she can be unbeatable.  She had two downgraded jumps, one under-rotated jump and one edge call in her free skate.  Her step sequence did receive a Level 3 which is a big improvement over the Grand Prix.

I had one exact prediction (Ando won gold) and picked 1/3 of the medal winners (Ando).

Pairs:

Pang and Tong won gold here to no one’s surprise and handily defeated the field at that.  Unfortunately, their score didn’t break 200 and puts them behind the Germans and Russians for the season and is almost identical to the score Volosozhar and Trankov received at the Mont Blanc Trophy.  Their programs were better than I’ve seen them all season, but they’ll need a little something extra if they want to make the podium at Worlds, let alone defend their title.  They did have errors in both their side by side jumps in their free skate here, and these errors could make a difference in their Worlds placement.

Duhamel and Radford continue to impress in their first season together and put two clean programs together to capture the silver medal.  They were 10 points ahead of the bronze medalists and are in the top 5 for the season.  Look for them to have a shot at the final warm-up group at Worlds.  Duhamel and Radford execute a rare side-by-side triple flip as well as a three jump combination in their free skate.

Lawrence and Swiegers capped off their season with a bronze medal and showed Canada’s new dominance in this event.  I think this young team will be strong contenders next season on the Grand Prix, and they finish in the top 10 for the season.

Yankowskas and Coughlin had some uncharacteristic errors that left them off the podium.  Still, they were only five points behind a team that had two relatively clean programs.  They’ve put themselves in a good position to peak at Worlds and with two clean programs they should have a strong finish to their season.

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch have seen their scores fall all season and after a great start, seem to be fading away.  I can’t exactly pinpoint what’s going wrong with their programs, but they’ll need to fix the problem fast if they want to reclaim their position as the best in Canada and one of the best in the world.

Evora and Ladwig struggled with boot issues in their short program and Evora looked like she wasn’t into their program during their free skate, possibly due to personal issues.  They did have solid scores here and I think they’re looking at a top 10 finish at Worlds.

I had one exact prediction (Pang/Tong won gold) and correctly picked 1/3 medal winners (Pang/Tong)

Dance:

Davis and White won Four Continents and continue their winning streak for the season.  They have all the momentum going into Worlds and one of the most difficult programs out there.  They’re still struggling with the Golden Waltz in their short dance, and a drop in levels cost them a placement in the short dance here.  They received all positive GOEs in their free dance and Level 4s on everything but their step sequences which garnered Level 3s.

The Shibutanis are continuing a dream season with a silver medal here.  Their scores put them in the top 5 in the world, and I think they have a great shot at making the final warmup group at Worlds which would be an amazing achievement for a team in their first year on the Senior circuit.  I don’t think they skated as well as they did at nationals, and if they can repeat that feat, they could easily move up a few more places.  They also received positive GOEs on all the elements in their free dance and had Level 4s on every element but one step sequence.

Crone and Poirier have seen their scores continuously slip all season and were passed by the Shibutanis here.  Their short dance doesn’t suit them at all and they continue to have to come from behind with their free dance to have a shot at medals.  If they don’t step up at Worlds, they may find themselves being passed by more teams.

Weaver and Poje have one of the best short dances out there but can’t seem to hold on to their lead in the free dance.  They had a personal best total score here, but it wasn’t enough to hang on to a medal.  If they could handle their nerves and skate two clean programs, they could easily surpass their compatriots and some of the other teams.  They received no credit for their dance spin in their free dance here.

Virtue and Moir skated an elegant short dance to open a slim lead over Davis and White in the short dance.  Their free dance looks very promising and extremely difficult but didn’t yet look as clean and polished as some other teams.  They stopped shortly into their program due to pain in Tessa’s quad.  They have vowed to continue on to Worlds but whether she’ll be 100% or their program will be perfected to the levels needed to retain their World title remains to be seen.

I had one exact prediction (Davis/White one gold) and picked 2/3 of the medal winners (Davis/White and Crone/Poirier)

Overall:

I had four exact predictions and picked 6/12 of the medal winners.  My USFSA Fantasy Team finished in 2nd place.