A spot at world championships on line for Canadian skaters at Four Continents
Pressure on to grab a spot for team competing in Montreal in March
Plainly speaking, there is lots to watch out for at this week's Four Continents championships in Seoul, Korea.
Not only is it the event that Skate Canada will use in order to determine who will be part of the Canadian team headed to Montreal and the world championships in March, it is also an opportunity to see fan favourites like two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu.
In a rare move, Hanyu has decided to return to both the short and free programs that earned him his second Olympic title in Pyeongchang in 2018. Without American Nathan Chen in the mix, this is an opportunity for Hanyu to add his first Four Continents title to his long list of accomplishments in this, his fourth trip to the event.
For Canadian champion Roman Sadovsky and former Canadian champions Nam Nguyen and Keegan Messing, the Four Continents results will determine who takes the one spot available in the men's event at the worlds. Competition begins Tuesday and runs through Sunday.
It is a similar story for three Canadian women in Seoul competing for one of two spots available for the worlds. For Canadian champion Emily Bausback, this will be a climb on to the senior international stage and the pressure that comes with it. It's about the learning process.
I like Japan's Rika Kihira's chances in this event. Not only is Kihira the defending Four Continents' champion, she recently took the national title and was ranked fourth at last year's world championships. She has amazing technical technique and artistic ability, everything a skater needs.
The resume for Wenjing Sui and Cong Han from China is second to none in the pairs' field headed to Seoul. This team has claimed five Four Continents' titles in six appearances in addition to their second world title in 2019. This season they took gold at both of their Grand Prix events as well as the top spot at the Grand Prix Final.
Look for Canadian pair champions Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro to make a stab for the podium. They are at a point in their career where they are widely regarded as "in the mix" wherever they compete.
The competition in ice dance will be close between the Canadian and American teams, as has been the case since the first Four Continents championships in 1999. Canadian dancers have earned nine titles while American teams have taken the rest. It is interesting to note that no other country aside from Canada and the United States has ever been represented on the ice dance podium at this event, except in 2018 when a Japanese team won bronze.
Canadian champions Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier lead the charge in artistry and innovation. Gilles and Poirier will be jockeying for position with newly crowned American and defending Four Continents champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates and two-time world medallists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.
Pj's Podium Picks:
- Men: Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan
- Women's: Rika Kihira, Japan
- Ice Dance: Madison Chock and Evan Bates, U.S.
- Pairs: Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, China