Shibutanis ride 'Fix You' free to Four Continents titleChock, Bates rally to take silver; Weaver, Poje win bronze; Jin leads men
The 2016 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships continued Thursday in Taipei, Chinese Taipei, with the free dance and men's short program.
Team USA's Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani danced to gold to take their first Four Continents title. U.S. silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates moved up from fourth to claim the silver medal. Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje settled for the bronze.
Performing to "Fix You" by Coldplay, the Shibutanis put out an excellent free dance, earning Level 4's for all elements with the exception of their circular footwork, which was rated a Level 3. The sibling duo tallied 108.76 points for the segment, a new personal best, to come away with a 181.62-point total.
"It is a really gratifying feeling. We've been working so hard over the past four seasons in particular, but this season, we've been really focused on making sure we make the most of every opportunity. This was a great opportunity today, and we're very excited looking forward to worlds," Alex said.
Chock and Bates delivered a strong performance of their Rachmaninoff free dance. The 2015 world silver medalists picked up a Level 4 for their lifts, twizzles and spin, while their two step sequences earned Level 3's. The duo posted a new personal-best free dance score of 107.59 points for an overall tally of 174.64, earning their second straight silver medal at this event.
"We had a pretty rough skate in our short dance yesterday, and that was tough for us. Today, we looked at the free dance like we had nothing to lose and we just enjoyed every second of our program. We just enjoyed skating together, and I think that's the attitude we're going to have going forward. It felt really good to be out there, and the audience was great." Chock said.
Weaver and Poje's performance was highlighted by two Level 4 lifts and Level 3 footwork, but they were shaky on the twizzles and the rotational lift. The gold medalists from this event a year ago scored 101.43 points and were placed fourth in the free dance to drop from second after the short to third overall with a score of 173.85 points.
"We didn't have a great skate here today. We had some things to fight for, and this is one thing I'm definitely proud of us is -- we fought to the end," Poje said. "We definitely look to the next competition to bring a better performance for the audience and for ourselves. I did stumble in the program a couple of times, and I'm not proud of that. I'll definitely go home and work on that to make sure that that doesn't happen again."
Despite placing third in both segments of the competition, Team USA's Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue finished off the podium in fourth with 172.29 points.
"For the free today, I think we did a great job of communicating with each other physically," Donohue said. "In the program, we really relied on our training, on our partnership and who we are as a team. It wasn't our most powerful performance, but we learned a lot from it and we're really happy with where we're sitting."
Boyang Jin of China took the lead in the men's short program. Japan's Shoma Uno sits in second, and Han Yan of China is in third.
Jin nailed a quadruple lutz-triple toe loop, a triple axel and quadruple toe in his routine set to "Tango Amore" by Edvin Marton. The 2015 world junior silver medalist also picked up a Level 4 for his spins and footwork to achieve 98.45 points.
"I'm very satisfied today; it was a good performance. I was able to show what I can do in training and I did everything out there today," Jin said. "I didn't feel much pressure. It is my first time at Four Continents and competing at a senior-level championship. I'm still lacking in some aspects of my skating, and I'm competing more against myself than against others.
Skating to "Legends" by Sacred Spirit, Uno produced a somewhat shaky quadruple toe, a triple axel and triple flip-triple toe combination, as well as Level 4 spins and steps. The 2015 world junior champion picked up 92.99 points.
"As soon as I took off (for the quad toe), I didn't know where I was, and I over-rotated. I'm not totally happy, but overall, it wasn't a bad performance," Uno said. "Since I'm not really satisfied with it, it gives me motivation for the free skate."
Yan's program to "Sing Sing Sing" featured a quadruple toe, triple axel and triple lutz-triple toe combination, but he received no value for his change foot sit spin. The 2015 Four Continents bronze medalist scored 89.57 points.
"I'm quite pleased with my program. The jumps were quite good, but I made few little mistakes, and I made an error on my sit spin," Yan said. "It is a shame; it cost me some points. I think I wasn't sitting deep enough and maybe didn't have the right angle."
Japan's Takahito Mura is not far behind in fourth place with 89.08 points, and Canada's Patrick Chan sits in fifth with 86.22 points.
Team USA's Grant Hochstein is sixth (75.79 points).
"I've been skating that program much better this week and all season," Hochstein said. "I had a good warmup, and it's kind of surprising to me that it didn't really go how I wanted it to."
U.S. silver medalist Max Aaron and Team USA's Ross Miner sit eighth and 17th, respectively.