Ice Network

Miyahara dominant in final tune-up before worlds

Nagasu surprises with silver; Sui, Han win pairs; Scimeca, Knierim second
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Satoko Miyahara made a statement at these Four Continents Championships: She's ready to rumble with the Russians at the world championships next month. The silver medalist at this event each of the last two years, Miyahara moved to the top step of the podium this time around with two career-best performances, and the Japanese skater claimed the title by more than 21 points. -Getty Images

Satoko Miyahara claimed a 21-point victory and Wenjing Sui and Cong Han captured their third career Four Continents pairs title Saturday in Chinese Taipei.

Team USA's Mirai Nagasu earned the ladies silver medal, with Rika Hongo claiming the bronze. Team USA took home another silver medal on the day, this one in pairs, as Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim finished second. The bronze went to Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin of China.

Skating to "Un Sospiro" by Franz Liszt, Miyahara reeled off seven triple jumps, including two double axel-triple toe combinations, and collected Level 4's for her spins and footwork. The 2015 world silver medalist posted a new personal best for the free skate with 142.43 points and finished the competition with a total of 214.91.

"In the first half of the season, I was happy with my performances, but I had a lot of second places. I was also twice a silver medalist at Four Continents, so coming into this competition, I was aiming to win," Miyahara said. "I'm pleased I met my goal, and it gives me a good feeling heading into worlds."

Nagasu put out a strong performance to music from The Great Gatsby that featured a triple flip-triple toe and five other triples, as well as three Level 4 spins. The 2011 Four Continents bronze medalist scored 127.80 points on the day and 193.86 for the competition to move up from third to second.

"I think it's safe to say that I haven't skated like this in a long, long time," Nagasu said. "It's taken a lot to get me back on the podium, and I'm so grateful to my team and support group who have gotten me here. I hope to only improve and continue on this track of improvement."

Hongo fell on her opening triple flip-triple toe combination, but she rallied to land five triples in her Riverdance routine. Although she only ranked fifth in the free skate, with 117.51 points, she still managed to pull up from fourth to third.

"Last year I participated in Four Continents for the first time, and I finished third. This time I'm glad I made it back onto the podium again, but I'm not completely satisfied with my performance," Hongo said. "I think I have many things to improve and I can do much better."

So Youn Park of South Korea finished fourth with 178.92 points.

American Gracie Gold came in third in the free skate and pulled up from ninth to place fifth overall with a final tally of 178.39.

"It was a respectable performance, and at least the quality of what I did was nice," Gold said. "I came into this competition knowing that I've had a lot of struggles with the event. I don't feel as comfortable with this event as I do for a lot of the other competitions, with the amount of time between competing at nationals and competing here. I came here knowing I feel this way, and I wanted to see how I could do with that. Knowing that I can skate a free program at least that well, after what happened in the short, I feel hopeful about worlds."

American Karen Chen struggled in both phases of the competition and came in 12th.

Pairs free

Sui and Han's performance to Samson and Dalilah was highlighted by a quad twist, quad throw salchow, side-by-side triple toe-double toes and three Level 4 lifts. The world silver medalists posted a new personal-best score of 143.40 and racked up 221.91 points overall.

"I think that we only showed 50 percent of our level. We didn't get the high levels as usual, and we had problems with the side-by-side jump," Han said. "We hope we can prepare well for Boston (site of the 2016 World Championships)."

Skating to music from Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Scimeca and Knierim produced a Level 4 quad twist and side-by-side triple salchows and triple toe-double toes, as well as a throw triple flip and throw triple salchow. The 2014 Four Continents bronze medalists improved their previous personal best for the free skate significantly, earning 140.35 points. With a total of 207.96, they moved up from third to second overall.

"This is such a great boost for us going into worlds. We showed what we can achieve," Knierim said. "Even today, there were some little mistakes, but we weren't thinking about a score that high, even with a clean program. It's just amazing."

Yu and Jin's program to "Humility and Love" included a triple twist, throw triple salchow and difficult lifts. The two-time world junior champions scored 122.34 points and moved up from fourth to claim the bronze in their debut at the Four Continents Championships.

Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea of the U.S. pulled up from seventh to fourth place with 182.02 points.

Kayne revealed afterward that she's been battling a viral infection.

"We did one practice yesterday, and I was able to do all the elements, which was the goal. I figured it wouldn't be fair to my partner if I gave up and he wasn't given the chance to skate the free program," Kayne said. "I tried my best to get through the program and just believed in all the work we've put in so far this season. It wasn't our best performance, but I think we stayed together through the whole thing."

Team USA's Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran placed sixth with 175.08 points. The team hit a few rough patches in its Journey free skate, including a fumbled catch on its opening triple twist.

"We're a little disappointed because we know we can do better, but we're very happy with how we followed through with the program, because it could have been really bad after that twist," Castelli said. "We fought through every adjustment and for every element. I think we came back and went for everything, and we didn't hold back," "I think that shows how much determination we have for next year."

Reigning world and Four Continents champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who entered the day in second, withdrew from the competition. She was dealing with a stomach bug since before the short program.