With the Winter Olympics opening a week from today, it’s easy to forget that the figure skating competition season continues, even for skaters who won’t represent their countries in Pyeongchang, and also for some who will.
Though the Four Continents Championship is open to skaters from North and South America, Asia, Australia and several African nations, the competition is dominated by skaters from Japan, China, South Korea, Canada and the United States.
This year, the trend continued with one notable exception, which I’ll get to in a minute.
The highest profile competition at this year’s 4CC was the men’s competition, which included Chinese national champion and World bronze medalist Boyang Jin, and Japanese skater Shoma Uno, last year’s World silver medalist. Both will compete in the Olympics and both performed difficult programs loaded with quadruple jumps. Jin’s technical excellence in his Star Wars free skate, topped Uno, who was in first place after the short program. Uno took silver, while American Jason Brown took bronze.
Japan’s ladies are among the world’s best, and swept the podium at the Four Continents. Karori Sakamoto, 17, won gold, while 19-year-old Japanese national champion Satoko Miyahara took bronze. Both will compete in Pyeongchang. 4CC silver medalist Mai Mihara is Japan’s first alternate for the Winter Olympics.
In ice dance, American ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who will not compete in Pyongchang, took gold. Canadians Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus won silver, while Kana Muramoto of Japan and her American-born partner Chris Reed won bronze. Muramoto and Reed will represent Japan at the Olympics.
American Olympic alternates Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea finished atop the pairs podium, followed by teammates Ashley Cain and Timothy Leduc who won silver. The U.S.’s top pairs team, who will go to PyeongChang, Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and her husband Chris Knierim did not compete at 4CC.
For me, one of the competition’s most captivating performances came from a pairs team representing a surprising place—North Korea. Tae Ok Ryom and Ju Sik Kim took bronze in the 4CCs and are expected to compete in the Winter Olympics. They train in Canada, have been competitive at international events this season, and show a lot of joy on the ice.
Here’s their 4CC’s short program, to Jeff Beck’s version of A Day In The Life.
Can’t get enough figure skating? You’ll love my Red Hot Russians #FigureSkatingRomance series.