Four Continents a medal haven for Canadian figure skaters
Canucks continue to take their share of the hardware
Since 1999 non-European skaters have had the chance to square off against one another in a final ditch international pre-worlds tune-up. The Four Continents championships have come to be as important an event on the figure skating calendar as the 125-year old European Championships it was modeled after.
Skating heavy hitters Canada, Japan, China and the United States have all taken their fair share of the hardware.
The following is a slice of skating history with a look at the skating that put these Canadians on the top of the Four Continents podium.
Titles: Canada 6, Japan 6, USA 3, China 1, Kazakhstan 1
Canadian medal count: 6 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze
Three-time world champion Elvis Stojko earned a bronze medal at the inaugural Four Continents and followed it up the following year with the title in Osaka, Japan in 2000. Stojko's win was the start of a medal streak in which Canadian men have earned 11 medals in the 17-year history of the Four Continents.
Winning the Four Continents title in 2002 in Jeonju, Korea was what really put Jeffrey Buttle on the map. His artistry and musicality was a sign of things to come from this talented skater who is now a choreographer. Buttle would eventually take an Olympic bronze in 2006 and world title in 2008.
The 2009 Four Continents was the test event for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Patrick Chan was the leader after the short program and easily won the title. His trip to worlds saw him take the first of two consecutive silver medals, followed by three consecutive world titles from 2011 to 2013.
At the 2013 Four Continents in Osaka, Japan, Kevin Reynolds was a dark horse, especially after a sixth-place finish in the short program. An excellent skate, which included three quad jumps, helped him vault over the competition to take the title and subsequently finish in fifth place at the world championships.
Titles: Japan 9, USA 6, South Korea 1, Uzbekistan 1
Canadian medal count: 3 silver, 2 bronze
Canadian women have yet to earn a title against the powerful Japanese and Americans. Of the five medals, six- time national champion Joannie Rochette took two of the silver medals and one bronze for the Canadians.
Titles: China 12, Canada 4, USA 1
Canadian medal count: 4 gold, 6 silver, 4 bronze
Canadian pairs teams have been able to keep up with the best in the world. There are only four gold medals for Canadian pairs, and they were earned by the following two teams. In the case of both Jamie Sale and David Pelletier and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, they followed up on their second Four Continents titles with world titles the following month.
Sale and Pelletier's second consecutive Four Continents title was in 2001 in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they performed to Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. They would go back to their iconic 'Love Story' program the next year on their way to collecting a co-gold at the 2002 Olympic Games.
In early 2015, Duhamel and Radford headed to Seoul, Korea to reclaim the Four Continents title that they had first won in 2013.
Titles: USA 9, Canada 8
Canadian medal count: 8 gold, 7 silver, 7 bronze
It took a while, but eventually North Americans came to be known as a force in ice dancing. During the 17-year history of the Four Continents championships, only Canadians and Americans have won medals. Interestingly, during this same time frame, the strength of the North Americans has been undeniable with either Americans or Canadians on the podium at the world figure skating championships in 15 of those 17 years; taking the title five times.
It all started with trailblazers Canadian Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, who were in Halifax for the inaugural Four Continents event in 1999. Bourne and Kraatz were able to pick up the trail left by 1988 Olympic and world bronze medallists Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall and move it forward to include the first world dance title for a Canadian team in 2003. Bourne and Kraatz's techno-inspired free dance was a fresh approach in a discipline bound by rules. Their title in 1999 would be the first of their three Four Continents crowns.
Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon were sublime in their 2007 Four Continents outing in Colorado Springs. Dubreuil and Lauzon came from second place, behind Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, to take title after winning two previous silvers. This free dance to Etta James' 'At Last' still stands up as one of the best examples of what ice dancing should be for me: joyful, soulful, engaging and a momentary break from every day life.
Anyone who had ever seen Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir knew that they were extraordinary. It was this free dance to Umbrellas of Cherbourg that put them on the map. The world took notice. After winning the Four Continents title in Goyang, Korea, Virtue and Moir went to their second world championships and won a silver medal.
Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje are masters at turning disappointment into opportunity. After not qualifying for the 2010 Olympic team, they led the charge to a first major international title in Korea at the 2010 Four Continents championships in Jeonju, Korea.