Team USA Nets Three Medals at 2013 Four Continents

10 Feb

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Competition Notes

2013 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships

Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 | Osaka, Japan

The 2013 Four Continents Championships came to a close Sunday with Team USA winning three medals, including ice dance gold. After an exciting men’s event on Saturday night, the stage was set Sunday for great finales in pairs, ladies and ice dance.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White, five-time U.S. ice dance champions, delivered a stunning free dance and received their best marks of the season. Their total of 187.36 points was three more than that of Canada’s silver medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

“It was a really emotional skate. We gave it everything we had, literally, and that’s all we can ask of ourselves,” White said. “It’s difficult coming off nationals so to be able to go out and perform the way we did is a monument to our preparation and I’m really proud.”

Madison Chock and Evan Bates, in their first Four Continents together, won the bronze medal with a season-high total of 160.42 points. Like many competitors at Four Continents, they now turn their focus to the 2013 World Championships next month.

“As the season has progressed, we have gotten stronger and stronger,” Bates explained. “Worlds is the culmination of the full season and all of our hard work. Our goal is to have the best two performances we have had all season and carry that momentum into the Olympic year.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani were edged by just a half a point to finish in fourth place. The outstanding Japanese crowd helped the team get through their performance as they were the final skaters of the event.

“We built our program on what the crowd gave us,” Alex said. “We felt the energy and excitement when we first walked into the building. I think we carried ourselves with a lot of poise and maturity, particularly tonight skating at the end of the event. We are very happy with our progress not only throughout the season but this week.”

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir maintained bronze medal position by executing a strong free skate. They totaled a season’s best 117.04 points for the segment and reached 170.10 for the week. The newly crowned U.S. pairs champs now look to the World Championships where they hope to incorporate more difficultly into their program.

“We have been working on the throw quad Salchow all season. We are looking for a good opportunity to put it in,” Shnapir said. “I think worlds is a great opportunity for us to put that out there and add it to our difficulty.”

Finishing three points behind their teammates were the 2013 U.S. bronze medalists Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay with 170.30 points. The duo, in their first championship event, were clean with the exception of a fall on their throw triple Lutz. They will take the learning experiences of this championships into next season.

“It was a great experience,” Zhang said. “We’ve both learned a lot about how we travel, how we train in a different arena in a different country. It’s a good step.”

Two-time reigning Canadian champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford stood atop their first international podium. Their significant lead after the short program helped lift them to the first-place finish over teammates Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, who won the free skate.

The third American team of Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim withdrew before the short program as Scimeca was experiencing pain in her right foot.

In the ladies event, Japan owned the podium. Mao Asada won her third Four Continents title with ease. Her total score of 205.45 points was 15 points higher than that of silver medalist Akiko Suzuki. Kanako Murakami rounded out the top three with 181.03 points.

Christina Gao finished fourth as she earned her best overall score of the season with 176.28 points. She suffered a fall on her triple Lutz but otherwise turned in a strong free skate.

Gracie Gold, in her ISU senior championships debut, placed sixth. She looks forward to taking some time to rest before diving into training for the world championships.

“I’m going to go home and take it easy for about a week to recover mentally and physically before I start my training for worlds.”

Agnes Zawadzki, who finished eighth with 158.99 points, expressed her disappointment in her experience at Four Continents following her free skate. However, she is ready to prepare for next season with the goal of becoming more consistent.

“I would like to put out stronger programs than what I did. It’s a good learning experience, I can always use it for next year,” she said simply.

Newly crowned U.S. champion Max Aaron, didn’t disappoint as skated a strong free featuring a pair of his signature quad Salchows. His free skate totaled 162.19 points, en route to 234.65 overall. He finished fourth overall and second in the segment.

“This is my first time at a championship event and I’m glad to be here,” Aaron said. “The fans were great, they really got me going. They get excited and cheer for everything in the program. It’s amazing. This is a good experience to get the chance to learn how championship events work at the senior level. It’s something special I can take toward worlds.”

Richard Dornbush also set a season’s best score in the free skate with a score of 151.03 points. He finished directly behind Aaron in fifth. His season now over, Dornbush will take some time to regroup with the plan of “training as hard as I can the whole way through” the upcoming Olympic year.  Ross Miner suffered some mistakes in his program and placed ninth. He looks forward to refocusing as he heads into worlds in March.

“I’m disappointed in myself,” he said simply. “That’s not the way I train. It’s been a long couple of weeks since the U.S. Championships. I’m excited to get home and have a few days to mentally recuperate and get ready for the world championships.”

Next up for Team USA are the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships set for March 10-17, in London, Ontario, Canada.

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