The Four Continents Championships came to Vancouver for the first time. Canada has hosted ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships before in 1999 in Halifax and in 2004 in Hamilton. The ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships have been established in 1999 and since then have been growing year by year. 24'000 spectators attended this week's event.
Men, Free Skating
In what was an exciting event, Patrick Chan of Canada claimed the gold medal and his first ISU Championships title in his debut at the Four Continents Championships. Evan Lysacek (USA) earned the silver medal, his fifth medal in this event. The bronze went to Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka.
Performing to a Cello Sonata and Piano Concerto No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninov, Chan nailed a big triple Axel right out of the gate, a triple Lutz-triple toe, a triple flip but then popped his second Axel. The 18-year-old rallied back to land a triple Salchow, triple loop, triple Lutz-double toe-double loop and a double Axel and produced excellent spins and footwork. The three spins and the straight line step sequence were all graded a level four by the Technical Panel. Chan scored 160.29 points (80.19 element score/80.10 program component score) and improved his previous personal best of 156.70 points. Overall he racked up 249.19 points, another personal record for him and the highest score any man has achieved this season so far. When his scores came up, Chan smiled broadly and waved to the crowd. “It’s just overwhelming I think. And to think that it’s my first Four Continents, I think I did pretty well for my first one. It’s great, because it also helps going to Worlds”, Chan said. “It (the program) wasn’t as good as Nationals. My second triple Axel didn’t go here. I was thinking, ‘great, I have another full minute to go without a triple Axel. But it was the whole package, not just the jumps. I just have to go to Worlds and skate two clean programs like Jeff (Buttle) did. I believe now if I do both triple Axels and all the other triples in my long program as well as a clean short, I think I could get a gold medal at the Worlds”, he added.
Lysacek stood in second place after the Short Program and skated first in the final group. He took the ice with a determined look and landed a quadruple toeloop, but then put down his hand on a cheated the triple Axel. The 23-year-old didn’t let that error affect the rest of his performance to “Rhapsody in Blue” and reeled off a triple Salchow, triple Axel-triple toe, triple lop, triple flip-double toe-double loop, a triple Lutz and another triple flip as well as fast level-four spins and level-three footwork. The two-time World bronze medalist posted a new seasons best of 155.50 points (80.80/74.70) and remained in second place with 237.15 points overall. “I feel good about my performance at this point of the season and I think I’m building momentum as the season goes on. I had a little slow start, but I’m hoping to peak by the World Championships. This was just a good stepping stone for me”, Lysacek told the press. “The competition (Four Continents) has changed so much. A lot of the top athletes would pass and not come and they would take a rest and get ready for Worlds. And now it’s become sort of the super power competition for the Men and for the Ladies. With the exception of Brian (Joubert), I think the top contenders in the world were here and the strength in the overall competition was remarkable. So I’m proud to have won a medal among that difficult field”, he explained when asked about competing in his sixth Four Continents Championships and winning his fifth medal.
Kozuka’s routine to “Romeo and Juliet” featured a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip, triple Salchow-double toeloop, a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop and two more triples. The Grand Prix Final silver medalist was awarded a level four for his three spins. However, he fell on his opening quadruple toeloop and landed forward on a triple Axel late into the program. Kozuka earned 145.15 points (75.55/70.60) for this program and was ranked fourth in the Free Skating but overall clinched the bronze medal with 221.76 points. “Before my performance, I was a little bit nervous and I didn’t know how it was going to be, but I think it was good enough for me and I enjoyed it”, the 19-year-old Japanese commented. “I tried the quad, but I fell, but I think it’s important to keep trying.”
Nobunari Oda (JPN) came in fourth at 220.26 points and was third in the Free Skating. He landed seven clean triples including a triple Axel-triple toe and a triple flip-triple toe, but he went down on a quadruple toeloop attempt and stumbled on the second triple Axel. Jeremy Abbott (USA) finished fifth. His routine included six triples, but he missed a triple Lutz attempt and doubled his planned quad toe (216.94 points). Vaughn Chipeur (CAN) rounded up the top six with 212.81 points.
The ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2009 conclude Sunday with the Exhibition Gala.