by Anne Calder | Photo by Melanie Heaney

The USA last hosted the Four Continents in 2012. The event was held in Colorado Springs and the ice dance podium included: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir of Canada (gold),  Meryl Davis & Charlie White of the United States (silver) and Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (bronze).

The 2019 competition was held February 5-10 in the Honda Center, home to the NHL Anaheim Ducks. Twelve couples representing Australia, Canada, China, Japan and the USA competed.

Rhythm Dance

Technical Controller, Halina Gordon-Poltorak and Referee Jennifer Mast presented Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (1), Madison Chock & Evan Bates (2) and Kaitlyn Weaver (3) small medals for earning the top scores in the Rhythm Dance.

The leaders, Hubbell & Donohue had the highest program component score, 37.59. Chock & Bates, in second place, had the highest TES (44.78) and the most level 4 elements. The 2019 US National silver medalists tied with Weaver & Poje for hitting seven of eight key points.

Hubbell & Donohue scored a season best 81.95 for their Astor Piazzolla’s tangos. The twizzles and curve lift earned level 4; the second pattern was level 3; and the first pattern and midline step sequence were level 2. The reigning Grand Prix Final Champions credited their training to pulling them through an otherwise shaky performance.

“It wasn’t our best performance. It had a lot of stumbles here and there, but we were able to show exactly how hard we’ve been working and still obtain our season’s best score, even though it wasn’t technically very strong,” Hubbell said.

Chock & Bates had a season best 81.17 to “Dinner” (Flamenco) and “Assassin’s Tango” and were less than one point behind the leaders. The technically strong program earned all but one level 4. Chock’s ankle surgery and rehab kept the 2016 World bronze medalists off-ice for ten months, just returning in January for the Torun Cup and US Nationals.

“We’ve never done such an intense competition schedule, especially coming back after ten months off, but we feel more prepared than ever,” Chock said.

“I feel like we’re building each time we compete,“ Bates added.

The reigning World bronze medalists, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje returned to international competition after skipping the Grand Prix Series and performing with the “Thank You Canada Tour. The Igor Shpilband choreographed “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla scored 80.56. The lift, footwork, first pattern and her twizzle earned level 4; the second pattern and his twizzle were level 3.

“We were able to practice our competitive programs, but it is different when you have a panel of judges watching,” Weaver said. “The preparation was very different. We slept on a bus for six weeks; we trained on small ice for 30 minutes a day, sometimes less. We learned how to be smart with our training, so we could arrive at this part of the season feeling very fresh and excited.”

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier were fourth with a 74.42 score to “Angelica’s Tango”. The rotational lift and his twizzle earned level 4; the remaining elements were level 3. The program has deep meanings for the 2019 Canadian silver medalists.

“For the two of us (our program) is a place where we can really lose ourselves everyday, and everyday it brings a different emotion,” Gilles explained. “There are so many layers and depth, and I think people can really feel for that, grow, and take it in.”

The reigning Four Continents gold medalists, Kaitlin Hawayek & John-Luc Baker were fifth with their interpretation of “Vuelvo al Sur” and “A Los Amigos” that scored 74.42. Their curved lift and twizzles earned level 4; the footwork was level 2. They hit three of eight key points. They were pleased with the overall performance.

“Last week, we worked on little nuances, on the storytelling aspect, and I think that it showed in both our components and GOEs,” Hawayek said.

Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen could not compete internationally for a year after switching representation from Sorensen’s native Denmark to Canada. They scored 73.30 for a sixth place finish. The twizzles and curve lift earned level 4; the remaining elements were level 3.

“We’re very excited about how we skated. It was so much emotion, and it felt so good to step out there again after such a long time off the international scene and perform as we are able,” Fournier Beaudry said.


FREE DANCE FORECAST FOR THE AUDIENCE

Hubbell & Donohue: ”This program has evolved so much, and we know that Romeo and Juliet is a well-known story. We’ve put a lot of energy into the training of it to give it a huge impact at the beginning – kind of a movie trailer excitement. Just as people are right on the edge of their seats, and they’re ready to get pulled in, we’re going to pull them into the love story. We want people to feel fully engrossed in our program – into the emotions and when it’s over, we want that standing ovation!”

Chock & Bates: “We’re going to entertain them. That is the essence of our program, especially the last minute or so when the music changes to ‘rock and roll’. In a competitive environment we’re really trying to stand out with our energy, with the feeling of the choreography and the chemistry between us. We’re going for sophisticated fun.”

Weaver & Poje: “It’s a tribute to our dear friend who died too soon – Denis Ten. It’s our emotional way to say thank you and good bye.” 

Gilles & Poirier: “We are using the story of Vincent Van Gogh’s art to tell the more general human story of what it means to create and struggle and put it out into the world and see how people take it. We can all relate to because we all have strived to achieve things we want to achieve and to make things we want to make. The story is the struggle to create and the struggle to let go into the world and put it into other people’s hands.”


ICE CHIPS

  • At the Free Dance draw, Technical Controller, Halina Gordon-Poltorak was surprised with a rousing round of “Happy Birthday”.
  • Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu used “Pirates of the Caribbean” for their Rhythm Dance while competing in Anaheim – home to Disney World.
  • Andrew Dodds also skates in men’s singles. The Australian commented on the challenge of competing in two disciplines at Four Continents. “It’s mainly sleep patterns and running between rinks and just making sure my energy levels are 100% each time.”