by Matteo Morelli
The 25th edition of the Four Continents Championships took place in Shanghai, China, in the same arena that hosted the World Championships in 2015. The ice dance field saw seven different countries that competed to earn the highest spots, including Natalia Pallu-Neves and Jayin Panesar who brought Brazilian ice dance to an ISU Championship for the first time.
Coming into the event as the favourite to win, and indeed not disappointing, were Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, which earned their fist gold medal from this competition; in silver medal position and also from Canada were Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen, whilst the bronze medal spot was earned by USA’s Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko.
The top three teams ended in the lead in both rhythm dance and free dance segments of the event, however the remaining spots had some movements from one segment to the other.
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier entered the event strong of a good season that is leading to the Wold Championships in their home country (Montreal, Canada). This was the second time for them to come back to this arena, having already competed at the 2015 World Championships where they collected their first top six finish.
At their eighth Four Continents appearance, this experienced team managed to secure that gold medal that they were missing in their record of achievements, adding it to the bronze and two silver medals their earned from previous editions.
“I think this is such a big milestone, in a lot of ways,” Poirier said. “We haven’t been to this particular competition in a long time.”
They finished first after the rhythm dance with 85.49 points, sharing that they really felt connected with each other and their music.
As expected at this point in the season, they showed a free programme that was much richer in detail and nuances than ever, showing how emotionally invested they are in this free based on music from “Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights”.
“We really went home after the Grand Prix Final and took a hard look at some of our transitions and elements and really wanted to make sure that we were boosting on the GOE,” Gilles shared. “I think we are really starting to feel the programs and feel the momentum of it.”
They earned 128.87 points for their free dance, for a total of 214.36 points.
Also from Canada, Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen added a silver medal to the one earned last year, ending a few points away from the first place.
Their rhythm dance earned 82.02 points, while their free dance earned 125.52 points and a total score of 207.54, both new season bests for them.
Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko finished in bronze medal position, replicating the result they achieved at the same event two years ago.
With a new costume for Carreira, their rhythm dance allowed them to secure a new season best, earning 77.47, only one point shy from their personal best.
Their free dance also showed a lot of progress and more detail and nuances, however a mistake from Carreira on their twizzles costed them a few points, with them ending in fifth place in the free with 116.67 points, but still securing their bronze medal with a total of 194.14, a new personal best for them.
“Today we left some points on the table in our program, but overall we are really happy with the performances we have been able to put out over the last two weeks (referring to US Nationals being the week before, where they earned a silver medal),” Carreira shared. “We made a lot of changes to both our programs and I think they are going in the right direction, so we are excited to get back home and continue working so well.”
Also from the USA, Emilea Zingas and Vadym Kolesnik had a fantastic debut at Four Continents. After being called last minute to replace Madison Chock and Evan Bates, this new team showed two strong performances and ended the event just out of the podium in fourth place, only a point away from the third place and exceeding their average combined scores this season by almost 10 points. The third USA team at the event, Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, went from fifth place after the rhythm dance to sixth place after the free and overall.
Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac, the other Canadian team at this event, went from seventh place in the rhythm dance to delivering one of their best free programmes yet, earning almost 120 points and new personal bests for their free and overall scores.
Important results also for Korea’s Hannah Lim and Ye Quan: in their first year as seniors and at their first Four Continents Championships, they delivered two strong performances and climbed from ninth to seventh place overall, with a new personal best for their free dance.
The fight between the Japanese teams to earn the available spot at the World Championships was won by Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto, who ended in eight place with new personal bests across the board; Azusa Tanaka and Shingo Nishiyama finished in tenth place, followed by Utana Yoshida and Masaya Morita in eleventh.