Ice Network

Ten takes control with dominating short in Seoul

Chock, Bates lead Shibutanis in dance; Duhamel, Radford ahead in pairs
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Kazakhstan's Denis Ten was the class of the short program, coming away with 97.61 points behind a sound quadruple toe and triple Axel. The Olympic bronze medalist leads the men's field by 8.71 points. -Getty Images

The 2015 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships opened Thursday at Mokdong Arena in Seoul, Korea.

Ice Dance

Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States danced to the lead in the short dance followed by teammates Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani. Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje are in third.

Chock and Bates' paso doble to Don Quixote featured a Level 4 straight line lift and Level 4 twizzles, while the paso doble pattern and the side by side footwork merited Level 3s. With 70.38 points, the U.S. champions set a new personal-best score for themselves.

"This was definitely our best short dance so far in competition and we're very happy that we could do it here at Four Continents," Chock said. "We just want to skate our best, even better than every competition we had before. We've made some changes to each program and we're excited to put them out here."

The Shibutani siblings earned a Level 4 for their twizzles, rotational lift and first paso doble sequence. The 2011 world bronze medalists scored 69.65 points, a new personal best as well.

"It was a much stronger skate for us than even at the Grand Prix Final or our nationals,"
Maia Shibutani said. "It was a little challenging for us today since we had such a quick turnaround from nationals. We've been working so hard and the programs have grown so much."

Weaver and Poje collected a Level 4 for the lift and Level 3 for the side-by-side footwork and the first paso doble sequence in their dance to
"La virgen de la Macarena." However, the twizzles and the partial step sequence were graded a Level 2. The Grand Prix Final champions earned 68.31 points.

"The hard part about the short dance especially this year is that even the smallest details can make a world of a difference," Weaver said. "We're already looking into making this better so that we can get all the kinks out here in time for the world championships."

Canada's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are currently ranked fourth with 63.45 points. Canada's Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam placed fifth (61.34 points) ahead of Team USA's Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker with 58.31 points.

China's Yiyi Zhang and Nan Wu withdrew following the short dance citing an injury to Zhang. They stood in 11th place.

Pairs

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada won the pairs short program. China's Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang and Wenjing Sui and Cong Han came in second and third, respectively.

Skating to "Un peu plus haut" by Ginette Reno, Duhamel and Radford produced a side-by-side triple Lutz, triple twist, throw triple Lutz as well as four Level 4 elements. The Grand Prix Final champions posted a new season's best of 75.67 points.

"We were more nervous than usual before we went to skate,"
Radford said. "I think it might be because Four Continents in the past has been a bit of a struggle. It's never been one of our best competitions. Coming in here, we didn't really have any solid expectation of ourselves. Of course, we wanted to do our best. It's a nice relief to have that type of skate."

Peng and Zhang landed a triple toe, triple twist and throw triple loop, earning a season's best of 69.81 points.

"Our score is almost the same as at Cup of China," Zhang said. "Our program has evolved a lot since the beginning of the season, and we have trained very hard."

Sui and Han's routine to "Stray Cat Strut" by the Stray Cats was highlighted by a set of triple toes, a triple twist and throw triple flip. The defending Four Continents champions picked up 69.19 points, another season's best.

"We showed our best level today, but there are still things that we can improve from our practice," Sui said. "We can improve the transitions. In the free skating, we hope again to show our very best."

Five-time Four Continents champions Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China placed fourth with 66.87 points, followed by Team USA's Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim (63.54 points) and Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Canada with 60.13 points.

Men's

Denis Ten of Kazakhstan won the men's short program. Japan's Shoma Uno finished second and Han Yan of China is currently ranked third.

Ten, who had drawn to skate last out of 26 competitors, nailed a quadruple toe loop, a triple Axel, and a triple Lutz-triple toe combination in his program to "Caruso" by Joseph Callejia. The Olympic bronze medalist collected a Level 4 for the three spins and the step sequence and achieved a new personal-best score with 97.61 points.

"I am relieved that I was able to show high-quality skating," Ten said. "The progress is quite obvious, and I think that's what is important for me and for my coach. It is a great start, but the competition isn't over yet. I'll try to keep going for the next few days."

Uno's program to "Violin Sonata No. 9" by Ludwig van Beethoven included a quadruple toe loop, a triple Axel, a triple flip-triple toe combination and excellent spins. He posted a new personal best of 88.90 points.

"I am quite surprised with the high score and also skating this well despite of my shaky warmup," Uno said. "I didn't feel pressure to compete the senior debut competition; however, I was feeling uncertain and became nervous."

Skating to
"If I Were a Rich Man" by Sheldon Harnick, Yan pulled off a triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe as well as two Level 4 spins and Level 4 footwork to score 87.34 points, a season's-best score.

"This was not a bad performance considering that I had many accidents this season," Yan said. "It was the best performance of the season so far. This competition is a practice for worlds for me. I didn't want to set any goal for it, but I just wanted to show my best to the audience."

Defending Four Continents champion Takahito Mura of Japan is not far behind in fourth at 84.29 points, ahead of Team USA's Joshua Farris (84.29 points) and Japan's Daisuke Murakami (82.86 points). Team USA's Jason Brown is ninth with 75.86 points and teammate Adam Rippon is 12th with 68.37.