Former World Junior champions Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA) danced to the lead as the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships opened Wednesday with the Short Dance in Taipei. Kana Muramoto/Chris Reed of Japan came second and Canadians Carolane Soucisse/Shane Firus are currently ranked third.
Hawayek/Baker’s dance to Samba and Rhumba with a modern twist featured level-four twizzles and a level-four curve lift while the Rhumba pattern, pattern step sequence and side-by-side footwork merited a level three. The American pair, who won the 2014 World Junior Championships, posted a season's best of 69.08 points.
“We felt like we had a really solid performance, using the momentum from our National Championships, and we had a fun time out there,” Hawayek said. "We’ve had a solid season and we’re excited to cap it off here at Four Continents. It's great to be back."
Dancing to Cha Cha, Rhumba and Samba, Muramoto/Reed picked up a level four for the Rhumba, twizzles and the rotational lift as well as a level three for the pattern step sequence and the side-by-side footwork. The Japanese champions earned a new personal best with 65.27 points.
“It felt like we skated really well, and to get the levels we worked so hard for prior to this event is a confidence boost," Reed said. "We’re really happy with the placement and looking forward to continuing pushing the momentum in the free (dance) tomorrow.”
Soucisse/Firus produced two level-four and two level-three elements in their dance to Samba and Rhumba for a personal best of 65.11 points.
“It was really fun to skate. Being in third is really awesome,” said Firus, who believed the competition's 0930 start may have worked in the Canadian dancers' favour. “I guess with our time change skating in the morning was better for us and it feels more like we’re training,” he added.
Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter (USA) are not far behind in fourth place on 62.83 points, followed by Shiyue Wang/Xinyu Liu (CHN) on 62.36 points. The 2017 World Junior champions Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) finished sixth after they struggled with the twizzles (60.18 points).