Four Continents to feature battles in men's, dance
Takahashi, Hanyu headline men's contest; American, Canadian duos meet again
|Daisuke Takahashi will try to oust young rival Yuzuru Hanyu in his hometown of Osaka. (Getty Images)|
A total of 83 skaters from 13 countries will compete. Following a decision of the ISU Congress in 2012, there will be no preliminary rounds. Instead, qualification is based on skaters and teams reaching the minimum total technical scores in their short programs and free skates.
In the men's event, world silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) is aiming for the gold medal in his hometown of Osaka. The current Grand Prix final champion comes with a season's best of 269.40 points to the event.
His toughest competitor could be newly crowned Japanese champion and world bronze medalist Yuzuru Hanyu (season's best 264.29 points). New U.S. champion Max Aaron, 2012 Four Continents bronze medalist Ross Miner (USA), Takahito Mura (JPN), Kevin Reynolds (CAN), Richard Dornbush (USA) and Nan Song (CHN) will all challenge for the podium as well. 2012 world junior champion Han Yan (CHN) will make his debut at an ISU senior-level event.
In the ladies competition, two-time world champion Mao Asada (JPN) is looking to regain the title she lost last year to Ashley Wagner (USA). Asada has the highest season's-best score of any lady so far with 196.87 points.
The challenge could come from 2012 world bronze medalist Akiko Suzuki (JPN), as well as from Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond and reigning world junior silver medalist Gracie Gold (USA), who are both debuting at the Four Continents Championships. Others to watch include Kanako Murakami (JPN), Zijun Li (CHN), Kexin Zhang (CHN), Christina Gao (USA) and Agnes Zawadzki (USA).
The ice dance competition is highlighted by the ongoing duel between reigning world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (CAN) and world silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA). The Americans (season's best 183.39 points) beat the Canadians (seasons best 179.83) at the Grand Prix Final in December.
The pairs event features 2011 Four Continents silver medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN), Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch (CAN), U.S. champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir (season's best 174.51 points) as well as the new team of Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang (CHN). Zhang is a multiple world medalist as well as former Four Continents champion with his former partner, Dan Zhang.