Let's get this out of the way: I was pretty riled up at the conclusion of the short dance segment in the ice dance competition over the weekend at the ISU Four Continents Championship in Colorado Springs, Colo.
I am not in any way suggesting that there were any kind of inappropriate judging shenanigans. But I still could not wrap my brain around the fact that Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White were ahead of Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, albeit by only about a half a point.
Both teams had small errors. But the difference in overall performance and Latin rhythm portrayal gave the edge, in my mind, to the Canadians.
Just prior to the event, Moir emailed me their goals for the Four Continents:
"Four Continents is a big competition and it is also the last competition before the World Championships. We come into every competition to win and that certainly hasn't changed for this week. However, our plan is to focus just on our programs and to enjoy every second. We want to really connect with each other on the ice and create a moment for the two of us. That will give us great momentum going into the World Championships."
In the free dance segment, where both teams have outstanding material, it eventually came down to the sum of small errors. Davis and White skated well. But Virtue and Moir had their skate of the season and took the title, while their American rivals settled for the silver.
Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were also spot on in both the short and free dances and took the bronze.
If this competition is any indication, look for the ice dance event to be the battle of the year come worlds in Nice, France, in March.
Patrick Chan took the Four Continents men's title with a superb free skate. His short program was a little shaky and he admitted to feeling nervous. But it was still strong enough to take the lead. By the time his free program started, he was the picture of confidence and easily won the free skate.
It cannot be overstated: Chan's basic skating ability is second to none.
Daisuke Takahashi of Japan is a man that Chan sees as a real threat. Takahashi is the 2010 Olympic bronze medallist, a world champion in his own right and a gorgeous skater. In Colorado Springs, the silver medal was his, along with the knowledge that with 30 points separating him and Chan in the final results, he still has a mountain to climb to challenge for the title in Nice.
If anybody can do it, Takahashi can.
Ashley Wagner, the newly-crowned American champion, took the title in Colorado, proving that she will be a podium contender at worlds.
Two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist Mao Asada of Japan took the lead after the short program. But she seemed a little tentative to me in the free skate. As a consequence, she dropped from first overall to second.
Caroline Zhang of the United States was the comeback story of the event. I liked her hunger for a result in the free. She moved from fourth to third.
From a Canadian perspective, the eyes of Skate Canada were on reigning Canadian champion Amelie Lacoste and two-time national champion Cynthia Phaneuf. Theirs was a sudden-death situation in which the more highly placed woman would secure the lone spot to compete at the worlds. Lacoste, in seventh overall, stayed ahead of Phaneuf's eighth-place showing by a slim margin of 0.18, although neither skater was at their best.
As such, Lacoste gets to realize her dream of competing at the worlds.
For me, the pairs event was a bit of a mixed bag. At the end of the day, Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, the two-time world junior champions from China, took top spot after having led in the short. It's true that their style is still somewhat robotic. But the strength of their technical elements cannot be denied.
The Americans rounded out the podium with national champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin and Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker taking silver and bronze, respectively.
Honourable mention belongs to Canadian champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who leapfrogged over the competition to finish fourth after settling for eighth in the short program.
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