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Miyahara edges Gold to take ladies lead in Seoul

Weaver, Poje rally to top Chock, Bates for dance title at Four Continents
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Japan's Satoko Miyahara was magical in the short, hitting her opening triple Lutz-triple toe en route to a personal-best segment score of 64.84. The reigning Four Continents silver medalist has a 2.17-point lead on the rest of the field. -Getty Images

The 2015 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships continued Friday at Mokdong Arena in Seoul, South Korea.

Free dance

Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje captured the gold medal. Team USA's Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, danced to the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Weaver and Poje's dance to The Four Seasons, in an arrangement by Max Richter, was highlighted by intricate footwork and beautiful lifts. The world silver medalists earned a Level 4 for the twizzles, lifts and the spin, while the step sequences garnered a Level 3. The Canadian champions picked up 109.15 points, just short of their season's best, and totaled 177.46 points to move up from third to win their second Four Continents title.

"It wasn't easy yesterday, coming from behind, but that's a position that we've been in for seemingly our whole career, so it was nothing new to feel like we had to fight for this free dance," Weaver said. "There is a little bit of extra gusto in there, because the desire to move up and that helped us to perform today."

Chock and Bates produced a strong free dance to An American in Paris as well, completing Level 4 twizzles, lifts and a spin, as well as Level 3 footwork. The Grand Prix Final silver medalists posted a new personal best with 105.80 points. However, with a total of 176.18 points, the duo was edged out of the gold medal by 1.28 points.

"Today wasn't our best skate, but it was definitely a solid performance," Chock said. "We're happy with the week we've had. We had good skates and good practices. It's great to go to the world championships with some fire in our bellies."

Dancing to "Rosen aus dem Süden" and "The Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss, the Shibutani siblings picked up Level 4s for their lifts and their spin, but he wobbled on the twizzles that were graded a Level 3. The duo scored 101.14 points, which is a new personal best, but they slipped from second to third with 170.79 points overall.

"I'm actually really surprised that happened," Alex Shibutani said. "Twizzles are usually one of our strongest elements, and we can do them with our eyes closed, so it was uncharacteristic. We were focused throughout the program and were very much in the moment. It felt really good even through that point, and we finished the program with lots of good energy."

Canada's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier remained in fourth place (162.25 points), while 2014 world junior champions Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker of the United States moved up from sixth to fifth at 149.98 points. Canada's Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam dropped one spot to sixth with 149.92 points.

Ladies short

Satoko Miyahara of Japan won the ladies short program. Team USA's Gracie Gold is in second and Japan's Rika Hongo is sitting in third place.

Miyahara nailed a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, a triple flip, double Axel and three Level 4 spins in her routine to The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The 2014 Four Continents silver medalist posted a new personal-best score with 64.84 points.

"I am very happy to be in first place," the 16-year old Japanese champion said. "The free skating is still to come and I'd like to prepare for that. Although I executed my triple-triple combination well, I thought I could have had a better performance. It was not 100-percent satisfactory." 

Gold opened her program to "Piano Concerto" by Edvard Grieg with a triple Lutz-triple toe combination but bumped into the boards at the exit. The U.S. silver medalist recovered to complete a triple loop and Level 4 spins and footwork; however, she singled her Axel. Gold scored 62.67 points.

"I can do a lot better," Gold said. "I was still able to skate an OK program and will still be in the running for a medal, if not first place. The triple Lutz-triple toe was completed, although I was too close to the barrier. The mistake on the Axel was silly. I know I can do a double Axel."

Hongo's performance to Le Corsaire by Adolphe Adam and Leon Minkus featured a triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple flip, double Axel and a Level 4 combination spin. The Japanese silver medalist picked up 61.28 points, slightly surpassing her previous personal best.

"I was really nervous to compete for the first time at Four Continents," Hongo said. "But, I was trying to have fun, and I did. My jumps weren't perfect, but the expression was quite satisfactory."

Team USA's Polina Edmunds sits not far behind in fourth with 61.03 points. China's Zijun Li follows in fifth with 60.29 points and Canada's Alaine Chartrand rounds out the top six (58.50 points).