There was a lot of excitement in the dance event at Four Continents, with three of the world’s top dance teams competing here for more than just medals. With the World championships looming in five weeks, these teams are jockeying for position and for very important momentum heading to Boston. With European teams Papadakis/Cizeron and Cappellini/Lanotte skating well, these North American teams will be fighting for the World podium and this event is an important precursor for that battle.
The Shibutanis pulled off a stunning victory here, just weeks after winning their first national title. With two clean skates, they grabbed their first Four Continents title and a huge momentum boost to their season. They won both segments of the competition and posted the highest TES in both programs as well. However, they lost in PCS in both dances to Weaver/Poje and were only 0.12 ahead of Chock/Bates in the short, and lost to them in PCS in the free. It’s nice to see the Shibs being recognized for their technical excellence, but those PCS scores could be a real factor come Worlds. Other than their overall victory here, I think it was huge that they were able to beat the Canadians when both teams were skating well in the short dance. That precedent has them heading to Boston with huge momentum.
Fellow Americans Chock/Bates were able to recover from a disappointing short dance to win the silver medal with a personal best free dance score. Due to so many changes in their content at the beginning of the season, these two have been slow to gain traction this year, but I think their programs have built solidly since the Grand Prix Final. This free dance should be good for their confidence as they head to worlds. Technically, they’ve made a few mistakes over the course of the season, including a big one here in the short, so they have to be very conscious of preventing those mistakes with their training before Worlds. The race will be so close among the top teams that every little point will matter.
Coming into this event undefeated, Canadians Weaver/Poje have to be disappointed with a third place finish here. They were a close second to the Shibutanis in the short, but made several costly mistakes in the free to fall to bronze. Unfortunately for this talented team, it was a bad time to have a bad skate; they’re now heading to Worlds with far less momentum than before. Again, I think their defeat by the Shibs in the short, though narrow, may be more damaging than their overall placement. Even despite their mistakes, Weaver/Poje won the PCS score in both segments of the event and I think they will be just as highly rewarded at Worlds as well. Last season after this event, they were still undefeated and yet fell to bronze at Worlds. Perhaps this loss here will catapult them to that elusive first World title.
Hubbell/Donohue, the third American team competing here, had another strong competition to add to their season. They were second in TES in both segments of the competition, placing a strong third in both dances. However, overall, they ended up about 1.50 points off bronze. They received a 1.00 deduction in the free dance, but it is really their PCS where they face a deep deficit in comparison to the top three teams. They have made huge improvements in their career this year, with a Grand Prix win and a Grand Prix Final appearance. Last year, they were 10th at Worlds, and they can certainly improve on that this season as they look towards Boston.
Just a quick note on Gilles/Prior, I feel like you could tell on their faces in the Kiss and Cry that they are frustrated with their scores here, perhaps a sign that their content and packaging aren’t working for them with the judges. I do want to give them a shout out for being original, and for posting their season’s best score in the free dance.
Looking towards Boston, there are at least five teams that could win a World title and that will certainly make that event one to watch! After I get all caught up from this event, I will begin my research for all of my Worlds previews. Thanks for reading!
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