Following the ISU European Figure Skating Championships the focus now shifts this week to the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships with most of the non-European top skaters competing in Anaheim, USA (February 5-10). Anaheim will host an ISU Figure Skating Championship for the first time.
88 skaters from 14 ISU members have been entered for this 20th anniversary edition of the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships: 26 Men, 22 Ladies, 8 Pair Skating couples and 12 Ice Dance couples.
Skaters/couples need to have obtained a minimum total technical score in the Short Program and Free Skating in order to compete at the Four Continents Championships. All four reigning Four Continents Champions are back and hope to defend their title.
Overview of the top contenders
Shoma Uno (JPN) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - NHK Trophy 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Olympic, World and Four Continents silver medalist Shoma Uno (JPN) headlines the Men’s event. The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final silver medalist is aiming at winning his first ISU senior-level title and comes with a season’s best of 277.25 points to Anaheim. Defending Four Continents Champion Boyang Jin (CHN) had a slow start into the season and hopes to improve on his results from the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series (SB 227.28). 2018 Four Continents bronze medalist Jason Brown (USA/SB 263.42) and ISU Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Junhwan Cha (KOR/SB 263.49) have set their eyes on the podium as well. Other contenders include Keegan Messing (CAN), Nam Nguyen (CAN), Keiji Tanaka (JPN), Kazuki Tomono (JPN) and Vincent Zhou (USA).
Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Helsinki 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
In the Ladies event, reigning Four Continents Champion Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) is looking at defending her crown, but she will face stiff competition from ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Champion Rika Kihira (JPN). Sakamoto scored a season’s best of 213.90 points, while rising star Kihira has a season’s best of 233.12 points. A Japanese podium sweep seems possible with 2017 Four Continents Champion Mai Mihara (JPN/SB 209.22) competing as well, but Bradie Tennell (USA/SB 206.41), Elizabet Tursynbaeva (KAZ/SB 200.74) and Eunsoo Lim (KOR/SB 196.31) seem ready to spoil the Japanese party. Others to watch include Mariah Bell (USA), Ting Cui (USA), Yelim Kim (KOR), Yi Christy Leung (HKG) and Alaine Chartand (CAN).
Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final JPN 2017©International Skating Union (ISU)
In the Pairs, all eyes will be on Olympic silver medalists Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN), who make their competition debut this season at the Four Continents Championships. The 2017 World Champions are aiming at their fifth Four Continents title. Competition should come from ISU Grand Prix Final silver medalists Cheng Peng/Yang Jin (CHN/SB 216.90), Canadian Champions Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro (SB 200.93), U.S. Champions Ashley Cain/Timothy Leduc (SB/181.56) and defending Four Continents Champions Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea (USA/SB 191.43).
Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
The Ice Dance event features reigning ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final Champions and World silver medalists Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) and 2018 World bronze medalists Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN). Hubbell/Donohue, who scored a season’s best of 205.35 points, will meet Weaver/Poje (SB 197.95) for the first time this season in competition as the Canadians sat out the Grand Prix this season. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN/SB 201.27) and defending Four Continents Champions Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA/SB 184.63) are aiming at the podium as well. Two-time World medalists Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) return to the big stage after missing the first half of the season as she recovered from injury. Other competitors include Shiyue Wang/Xinyu Liu (CHN) and Misato Komatsubara/Tim Koleto (JPN). Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen make their international competition debut for Canada. They had competed for Sorensen’s native Denmark until the end of 2017.
ISU Four Continents 2016©International Skating Union (ISU)
Please note that for the seasonal best total scores only the ISU Grand Prix competitions (senior and junior) and ISU Challenger Series events have been taken into consideration, not other international competitions or National Championships.
The schedule of the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2019 is as follows:
Thursday, February 7: Ladies and Men’s Short Program
Friday, February 8: Pairs Short Program, Rhythm Dance, Ladies Free Skating
Saturday, February 9: Pairs and Men’s Free Skating
Sunday, February 10: Free Dance, Exhibition Gala
For more information, full entry lists and results please see: www.isu.org and the official event website. Follow the discussion on social media using #4ContsFigure and #FigureSkating.