Tessa Virtue, left, and Scott Moir are making their season debut this week in Taiwan. (Chiang Ying-ying/Associated Press)
The 2011 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships are taking
place this week in Taipei City. This event boasts the star power of any
international competition this season by hosting the four defending
Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated event in these championships will
be the ice dance event pitting the defending world and Olympic champions
from Canada, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
, against their rivals from the
United States, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The Americans, who are
the reigning world and Olympic silver medallists, are looking to
capitalize on the momentum they have created by winning all of the
events they have entered this season including the Grand Prix Final and
the U.S. championships.
The Canadian dance champions, Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, and
Canadian national silver medallists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje
always seem to run neck and neck in competition. The Canadian teams seem
the likely candidates to challenge for the other podium spot. Weaver
and Poje are also the defending Four Continents champions and will not
go down without a fight.
Chinese pair goes for 5th title
The pairs event will see the defending and two-time world champions from
China, Qing Pang and Jian Tong, look for their fifth Four Continents
title. As the reigning Olympic silver medallists, the Chinese are in a
class of their own in this field with the experience and the technical
prowess to dominate. The podium could see the continued rise of newly
crowned Canadian champions Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch.
Fellow Canadians and national silver medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric
Radford have shown that they have the potential to make the podium.
Duhamel and Radford will have to perform solidly in both the short and
the free to stay ahead of the promising Japanese team of Narumi
Takahashi and Mervin Tran, who were Junior Grand Prix champions.
Phaneuf winning battle of nerves
In the ladies event, the defending world champion from Japan, Mao Asada,
has her work cut out for her to stay ahead of the two-time American and
Grand Prix Final champion from the United States, Alissa Czisny. All
season long Asada has struggled with the new jumping technique imposed
on her since changing coaches to legend Nobuo Sato. In a recent
interview, she spoke of being able to once again perform triple Axels in
both her short and free programs. On the strength of her fiercely
competitive spirit, my money is on her to take the title in Taipei.
History shows that not unlike Carolina Kostner of Italy, Czisny has
trouble competing at her optimum too many times in a row. As such, I
think that the sting of finishing in third place after being in first
after the short at the U.S. nationals will see American Mirai Nagasu
head to the podium. The steady improvement in the battle of the nerves
of Canadian two-time champion Cynthia Phaneuf also gives her an edge
for a podium finish.
Sawyer looks to build on nationals
There will be lots going on in the men's field, with the defending world
champion and Olympic bronze medallist from Japan, Daisuke Takahashi,
having only the slightest edge. His biggest challenge should come from
Grand Prix Final bronze medallist Takahiko Kozuka, whose season's best
score is about 15 points more than Takahashi's. American Adam Rippon is
the defending Four Continents men's champion and will be looking to
make up for a fifth-place finish at the recent U.S. nationals. Canadian
silver medallist Shawn Sawyer is looking to build on the momentum he
created with an amazing outing at the recent national championships.
Conversely, after a very disappointing nationals, look for Canada's
Kevin Reynolds to set the record straight, and if he includes the quads
he has planned in the short and free he could definitely become the dark
horse in this event.
Pj's gold-medal picks:Men:
Daisuke Takahashi (Japan)
Ladies: Mao Asada (Japan)
Qing Pang and Jian Tong (China)
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)Programming note:
Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, watch streaming
of the free dance at the ISU Four Continents event in
Taiwan, where Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are making their season debut. Enhance
your viewing experience by joining our live
with CBC analyst Pj Kwong in the iAsk forum, presented by
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