2013 Four Continents Championships: Preview
By Olga Fluegge
The Four Continents Championships, which this year will be held from February 6–11 in Osaka, Japan, is the youngest figure skating competition. It is held since 1999 for skaters from non-European countries.
The field in Osaka will be very strong in each event, although three of four title winners of 2012 (Patrick Chan, Ashley Wagner, Wenjing Sui/Cong Han) will not compete this year. It is sad that famous Chinese pair skaters Qing Pang/Jian Tong have withdrawn from competitions due to injury and successful Japanese couple of Narumi Takahashi/Mervin Tran had ended their partnership in December last year.
In pair´s event we will see three technically solid new American pair skaters, who make their debut at ISU championships in seniors: Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir, Felicia Zhang/Nathan Bartholomay and Alexa Scimeca/Christopher Knierim. Very strong are pairs from Canada; both of them made 2012 ISU Grand Prix Final: Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford and Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch.
The main favorites for the gold medals in ice dance competitions will be famous teams Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir of Canada and Meryl Davis/Charlie White of USA. They are going to write another chapter in their story of rivalry. Another American and Canadian couples can claim bronze, but in my opinion Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani as well as Madison Chock/Evan Bates, who are more successful internationally right now, have better chances than Canadians Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier and Nicole Orford/Thomas Williams. By the way, it will be nice to see three Japanese couples competing in ice dance event.
Reigning Japan’s national champion Yuzuru Hanyu and 2012 Grand Prix Final champion Daisuke Takahashi are considered to be the main contenders for gold in Osaka. It will be interesting to see the skating of the new U.S. Champion Max Aaron, who is a very good jumper but who also need to improve his components. This will be his debut at ISU senior events. Earlier, Aaron competed internationally only in so-called B events.
Other members of the U.S. men‘s team have already successfully performed at 4СС: Ross Miner won the bronze medal in 2012 and Adam Rippon (editor’s note: Rippon has withdrawn due to injury, substituted by Richard Dornbush) won gold in 2010. Kevin Reynolds, who skated very well at Canadian nationals is fully able to compete in the fight for medals.
I think the ladies event at 4CC will be the most popular as there will participate top three ladies representing Japan: 2012 Grand Prix Final champion and reigning national champion Mao Asada, Akiko Suzuki, and Kanako Murakami. They can sweep the podium.
It also will be very interesting to see there performances of this season‘s senior debutants, who did very well at 2012 Grand Prix series: Gracie Gold (USA), Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN), Zijun Li (CHN). The 16-year-old from China is not only technically strong but also has a nice skating style and looks very polish.