Four Continents: Canadians have titles in their sights
Patrick Chan has won both times he’s entered this event
The majority of the Canadian team will be in Taipei City for the ISU Four Continents Championships.
The team will be without Gabrielle Daleman, Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau, who have withdrawn with minor training injuries.
The Four Continents, which begin Thursday, are the final chance for skaters to work out any kinks before everybody heads to the world championships in Boston next month.
As has been the case for most of the season, the men's competition has a lot to offer with everyone scrambling to find their way.
Although he has been slow to get back into top form in his return to competition this season, Canada's Patrick Chan knows what he has to do. Chan won the Four Continents title in 2009 and 2012, the only times he's entered the event.
Shoma Uno, the 18-year-old Japanese skating sensation, is a force to be reckoned with. Along with the junior world title in 2015, Uno took the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final last December - 13 points ahead of Chan's fourth-place finish.
Chan is often at his best when he has a specific target to aim for. In the case of this event it's Ten and Uno.
World champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won the Four Continents title last year for the second time.
The Canadian pairs team has the season's best score in the field, which puts the duo at the top of the contenders. This doesn't mean that it will be a walk in the park, especially since 2015 world silver medallists Wenjing Sui and Cong Han would like nothing better than to claim their third title.
This is a competition that could go either way. Duhamel and Radford have talked about shoring up their short program score, which will be essential to stay ahead of Sui and Han, who are an even match for them technically.
No gold standard
Satoko Miyahara can hold her own in most situations with silver medals at the worlds, Four Continents and the recent Grand Prix Final. I wonder though if this will be the moment that American Gracie Gold takes the reigns. Gold can be dazzling but is frequently hampered by competitive inconsistency. At her best, Gold is tough to beat but her best will have to include establishing a solid lead in the short program or all bets are off.
I would like nothing better than to see newly crowned Canadian champion Alaine Chartrand skate the way she did last month on her way to the national title. With error-free programs both Chartrand and former Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond have the potential to hit the podium.
Canadian ice dancers and two-time defending Four Continents champions Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje are the ones to beat. The real battle in ice dance will be for the other podium spots. The top four from last year's Four Continents have all made strides this season and are jockeying for position and what that will mean heading into worlds as favourites.
I am looking forward to seeing the rematch between new American dance champions Maia and Alex Shibutani and their arch rivals, former national champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates. These two teams finished in third and second, respectively, at last year's Four Continents.
Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were fourth a year ago at this event and could throw a wrench into everybody's plans with distinctive programs and a modern take on the sport. Gilles and Poirier have been as high as second place at the Four Continents in 2014 and are definitely in the mix.
Pj's Podium Picks
Men: Patrick Chan CAN
Pairs: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford CAN
Ladies: Gracie Gold USA
Dance: Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje CAN
Watch live on CBC Sports
- Ice dance free program, 12:20 a.m. ET
- Pairs free program, 1:20 a.m. ET
- Ladies free program, 4:50 a.m. ET
- Men's free program, 10:50 p.m. ET
- Gala, 4:50 a.m. ET