Taipei City / Chinese Taipei

The ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2014 continued in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei, Thursday with the Free Dance and Ladies Short Program.

Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue dance to gold
Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) danced to the gold, overtaking Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier of Canada. The bronze went to Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton (USA)

Hubbell/Donohue performed very well to “Nocturne” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”, completing difficult steps and lifts. The couple picked up a level four for the lifts, the twizzles and the circular footwork while the spin and the diagonal step sequence were rated a level three. Hubbell/Donohue improved their personal best by almost five points and had 97.20 points. Overall they accumulated 158.25 points. “It means a lot. We’ve learned a tremendous amount about our partnership this season. We had a pretty stellar year our first year together and since then it has been a little bit of a struggle to find our way. I feel that we finally have proven ourselves as a strong, consistent team that deserves to be at the top. We can’t wait until next season and keep pushing higher”, Hubbell said.

Gilles/Poirier had chosen a dark theme with music from the “Hitchcock” and “Psycho” soundtracks. They impressed with a stationary lift and two rotational lifts, but lost a few points on a straight line lift and the diagonal steps that garnered a level two. The Canadians got a seasons best of 91.33 points, but slipped to second at 153.72 points overall. “We’ve had a seasons best in both programs, that’s definitely more than we can ask for. I think today the performance was a bit tight, compared to the times we’ve done it in the past, but there were some positive things to take out of this. We’re going to take this competition with us, because it taught us a lot about resilience and about being able to come back so quickly after Nationals. Overall it’s been a really positive experience and we are pleased with the result”, Poirier told the press.

Aldridge/Eaton’s Bollywood dance was highlighted by interesting lifts and level-three step sequences. The 2013 World Junior bronze medalists collected a level four for four elements and a level three for three elements and were awarded a new personal best score of 87.30 points. Overall they totaled 144.95 to claim bronze in their debut at the ISU Four Continents Championships. “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”, Aldridge commented.

Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill (CAN) remained in fourth place (137.03 points). Nicole Orford/Thomas Williams (CAN) came fifth (133.42 points) ahead of Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giuletti-Smith (USA) with 130.05 points.

Kanako Murakami (JPN) wins Ladies Short Program
Kanako Murakami of Japan won the Ladies Short Program. China’s Zijun Li came second and Haruka Imai, also from Japan, is ranked third.

Murakami put out a solid performance to “Violin Muse” by Ikuko Kawai, landing a triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple flip and double Axel. Her spins and the footwork all merited a level four and the 2013 Four Continents bronze medalist scored a seasons best with 64.73 points. “I didn’t want to come to Four Continents but now I’m glad I came here. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the free skate, but I’ll try my best and I’m aiming at a specific number (score) that I have in my head”, the 2010 World Junior Champion noted.

Skating to a Tango, Li produced a triple flip-triple toe combination, a triple Lutz and two level-four spins as well as level-four steps. 62.84 points was a new personal best score for the 17-year-old. “I’m really excited, because I never landed that combination in competition. I prepared a long time for the Four Continents Championships and it is thanks to my training that I was able to perform so well”, she said.

Imai, who skated last out of the 21 Ladies, turned in a strong performance to “Song Without Words” by Felix Mendelssohn that featured a triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop and two level-four spins. The 20-year-old achieved a personal best as well with 62.72 points. “Even before my performance I could hear the applause and it made me feel that I’m not alone but that my fans are with me. I got more than 60 points for the first time and it was like a triumph for me”, Imai commented.

Satoko Miyahara (JPN) is currently sitting in fourth at 60.27 points. Hae Jin Kim (KOR) came fifth (57.48 points) and Samantha Cesario (USA) finished sixth (57.40). A lot can happen in the Free Skating since the difference in points is small.

The ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships continue Friday with the Pairs and Men’s Free Skating.