by Katie Tetzloff | Photo by Robin Ritoss
Last week, the 2014 Four Continents Championships were held in Taipei City, Taiwan. The dance event featured 15 teams from North America, Australia, Asia, and Africa. As in previous years, the United States and Canada swept the top six spots.
Americans Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue won the gold medal after finishing a decisive first in the free dance. They had a slight setback in the short dance due to a bobble on their twizzles, but this did not prevent them from giving it their all in their “Bohemian Rhapsody” free dance. Not only did they win their first major international title in Taipei City, but they also achieved a new personal best score of 158.25 points, all with Hubbell competing on an injured hip less than two weeks after they missed making the U.S. Olympic team in a close race.
“I’m in quite a bit of pain here with my injury,” Hubbell said. “The twizzle sequence in particular is difficult with the leg to the left side. It puts traction on the injured hip. I’ve had this injury all season and I’ve been able to compete well.”
Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier of Canada finished second with a total of 153.71. Their short dance earned them a new personal best and the leading spot heading into the free dance. Though they skated a clean and strong free dance, they slipped to second overall.
“We are really glad to know we can still have a little improvement,” Poirier said. “We are very pleased the program is really consistent for us.”
Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton of the United States won the bronze medal. This is quite remarkable since it is their first year competing at the senior level. Their score of 144.95 was also a new best for them, nearly eight points ahead of the next closest team.
“We feel great,” Eaton said. “It’s our first year senior. What more can we ask for? It’s just really motivating us for the years to come. This is our first major [senior] championship and it’s so much fun to be here and with all the people and with the whole team.”
Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill, representing Canada, just missed the podium, landing in fourth. In the last couple of Canadian Championships, Ralph & Hill placed behind their Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams, but at this event, they finished ahead of them by nearly four points. Ralph & Hill also earned a new personal best of 137.03, while Orford & Williams were just over five points behind their best mark, set at this championship last year.
Americans Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt finished sixth at their first Four Continents Championships, but were fifth in the free dance, earning 130.05 points overall.
Danielle O’Brien & Gregory Merriman (pictured, right) struggled with the twizzles in the short dance, leaving them in tenth place going into the free dance. They rallied in their charming circus-themed free dance and finished seventh overall.
Of the teams competing in Taipei City, only O’Brien & Merriman will compete in the Olympic Winter Games next month. Depending on what happens in Sochi, a few more of these teams may appear in Japan for the World Championships in March.