Goyang City, Republic of Korea -- The 2008 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships commenced on Wednesday with 97 skaters from 16 ISU member nations battling it out for the top honors.
Men's Short Program
Japanese star Daisuke Takahashi out-skated the rest of the field in an exciting event with Evan Lysacek from the U.S. and Canada’s Jeffrey Buttle in second and third place, respectively. All three skaters earned new seasonal best scores for their short program performances.
Takahashi put down an inspiring performance to his hip-hop version of “Swan Lake,” landing a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a superb triple Axel and a triple Lutz out of footwork. The crowd went wild as he performed his spectacular footwork sequences.
The reigning World silver medalist racked up a new personal best score of 88.57 points. “It’s all about the audience,” Takahashi said. “They make me go faster, they are excited and I’m feeding off their energy. The highlight of the program is the footwork for me, because I feel like a true dancer when I’m doing it. The short program was good for me. For the free skating, I hope to do two quads.”
Lysacek, the defending Four Continents Champion, gave a powerful performance to “The Mask of Zorro” and scored 84.06 points, surpassing his previous personal best of 81.55 points. Buttle produced three level-four spins in his expressive program to “Adios Nonino” and earned 83.85 points.
The 2008 Canadian ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir narrowly edged out America’s Meryl Davis and Charlie White to take the lead with their solid performance of the Yankee Polka. Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre sit in third place. All three couples achieved new season best scores for this dance.
Virtue and Moir, who lead by less than one point, earned 38.22 points for their performance. “It’s a different feeling. I suppose we had that a little bit at Nationals,” Virtue said when asked how it felt to enter the event as favourites. “There is always pressure, the teams are amazing, and we know that we have to skate well and lay down three solid performances. It’s certainly not a comfortable position and we are well aware of who is coming up behind us. We’re just trying to do our best and skate like we’ve been training.”
Davis and White danced into second place with 37.36 points. Navarro and Bommentre, who had been working on the Polka with one of its creators, Ron Ludington, earned 34.36 points and are currently in third place.
Pairs Short Program
Reigning Chinese champions, Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang skated into the lead in the short program ahead of teammates Qing Pang and Jian Tong. Rena Inoue and John Baldwin from the U.S. are in third.
Zhang and Zhang delivered a flawless performance to “Piano Fantasy” earning a level four for their pair combination spin and collected 70.45 points. “Overall we are quite pleased with today’s performance, but we were a little bit tired,” Dan Zhang said. “We did a lot of competitions this season and so we felt tired in the second half of the program.”
Pang and Tong earned level 4s for three of their elements and earned 67.70 points, slightly improving on their previous personal best. Inoue and Baldwin scored 57.40 points for their performance to “Beethoven’s Last Night.”