Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro of Canada surprisingly captured the lead in the Pairs Short Program.
China’s Cheng Peng/Yang Jin placed second while two-time and reigning World Champions Wenjing Sui/Cong Han, also from China, had to settle for third place on the first day of the Pairs competition at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2020 in Seoul (KOR) on Thursday.
Skating last, Moore-Towers/Marinaro put out a confident performance to “Love on the Brain”, hitting a triple twist, throw triple loop and side by side triple toe. The ISU Grand Prix Finalists collected a level four for the lift and the side by side spin and posted a personal best of 76.36 points.
Kristen Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro (CAN) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
“We’re definitely happy with the overall performance,” Marinaro said. “We left a few levels out there today so we’re going to have to clean up those levels for Montreal (World Championships, in March) and get those extra one, two points that we can get to try to push that score as close to 80 as we can.”
Moore-Towers said: “There are a lot of great teams at Four Continents but of course the reigning World Champions are here and they always push us.
“We’re really two of their biggest fans so any time we get the opportunity to skate with them, we’re really thrilled to watch them and to learn from them but of course we’re always hoping to win. We’re never aiming for second. It’s always the goal for us to skate our best and if that lands that on top, so be it.”
Peng/Jin’s performance to “Alegria” featured a triple toe, throw triple loop and triple twist as well as two level-four elements. The ISU Grand Prix Final silver medalists notched 75.96 points, a personal best.
Cheng Peng and Yang Jin (CHN) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
“We are quite satisfied with our performance today,” Jin said. “We feel the program is improving every time.”.
Peng added: “We had a hard time after the Grand Prix Final. I had an injury.”
Sui/Han opened their performance to “Blues Deluxe” with a solid side by side triple toe but then made an uncharacteristic error when Sui doubled the throw triple flip. The five-time Four Continents Champions recovered to land a triple twist, a level-four death spiral and reverse lasso lift. They scored 73.17 points.
Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (CHN) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
“Today we skated a bit tight,” Sui said. “We had a problem with my costume. It is so stressful for me so we just did a double throw. I’m happy it happened early so we can change that before the Championships.”
Jessica Calalang/Brian Johnson (USA) placed fourth on 67.76 points. US Champions Alexa Scimeca/Chris Knierim (USA) follow in fifth (63.14 points) while Evelyn Walsh/Trennt Michaud (CAN) are currently ranked sixth (62.97 points).