The top ice dance couples from four continents (the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Oceania) head to Anaheim, California, for the 2019 Four Continents Championships. Contested annually since 1999, this marks the fifth time that a U.S. city has hosted the event, with previous events being held in Salt Lake City, Utah (2001), and Colorado Springs, Colorado (2006, 2007, 2012). This event was originally scheduled to take place in Colorado Springs, but was later moved to Anaheim.
This year’s roster includes former champions Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (2010, 2015), Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue (2014), and Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (2018). The podium has been comprised of teams from the United States and Canada every year, with the exception of the 2018 bronze medal, which was awarded to Japan’s Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed. The U.S. versus Canada showdown is expected to continue in 2019. In another form of dominance, half of the teams at this competition train in Montréal with Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, Romain Haguenauer, and Pascal Denis.
Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue of the United States have taken different paths this season, but each are undefeated. While Weaver & Poje have competed just twice, finishing first at Autumn Classic International in September and reclaiming their Canadian crown in January, Hubbell & Donohue have claimed gold in five competitions, including winning their second consecutive U.S. title. Weaver & Poje spent the autumn months as part of the Thank You Canada tour, where they performed both programs in front of packed audiences. Hubbell & Donohue have continued to refine and tweak their programs by utilizing judges’ feedback from throughout the season. Anaheim looks to be a battle of national champions, with only one being the victor.
After a year of injury setbacks, Madison Chock & Evan Bates of the United States stormed back into the competitive arena with a decisive win at Mentor Torun Cup in early January. Just two weeks later, they took the silver medal at the U.S. National Championships, only four points behind Hubbell & Donohue. Their free dance, set to music by Elvis Presley, is not only entertaining, but showcases a lighthearted side of the team’s personality and a fresh skating style. While they have fewer competitive appearances this season, they have years of experience and will figure into the mix.
Canada’s Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier have one of the most captivating free dances of the season. Set to Govardo’s cover of Don McLean’s “Vincent,” both judges and audiences have been entranced with the program’s story and choreography. Gilles & Poirier were less than two points behind Weaver & Poje at the Canadian Championships and can rely on a season of experience to push them onto the podium.
Just one year ago, Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker of the United States were first alternates for the 2018 Winter Olympics and traveled to Chinese Taipei to compete at Four Continents, where they captured the title. Like Chock & Bates, Hawayek & Baker also relocated to Montréal during the off-season to train with Team Gadbois. The team recorded their highest finish yet at the 2019 U.S. Championships, taking home the bronze medal.
In Anaheim, Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen will make their international debut for Canada. After competing for Sorensen’s home country of Denmark for several years, the team decided to switch countries after they were unable to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics despite earning a spot for Denmark as Fournier Beaudry is not a Danish citizen. The team kept their popular free dance to “Spanish Caravan” by The Doors, but reworked many elements due to the new technical requirements.
The event gets underway with the Rhythm Dance on Friday, February 8th at 3pm local time (PST), with the free dance on Sunday, February 10th at 1pm (PST).