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Four Continents Championships

Team USA’s Polina Edmunds wins gold in her first appearance at the Four Continents Championships

By Johanna Bear

Much like the men’s event that preceded it, the ladies event at the 2015 Four Continents Championships was a wide­ open competition that provided its fair share of highs and lows until the very last performance.

After coming into the free skate in fourth place, Polina Edmunds displayed the kind of form that saw her bursting onto the national and international scene last season. Despite her triple flip­-half loop­-triple Salchow combination being called for a wrong edge and her standalone triple flip being deemed to not be on a clear edge, Edmunds landed five clean triple jumps and capitalized on the mistakes of the other skaters en route to the gold medal at her first appearance at the Four Continents Championships. She earned a total score of 184.02.

“Coming into this I wanted to skate well because I knew it was a great opportunity for me to gain momentum. I expected myself to skate well and I did. I’m happy I was awarded the gold medal for it,” Edmunds enthused, “I’m excited for Worlds. Especially since I did well here at Four Continents. I have great momentum going into Worlds with skating great. I’m looking forward to doing more now with my programs and working more on the artistry.”

Satoko Miyahara of Japan entered the free skate in first place and looked to perform her “Miss Saigon” program the way she did to win her first Japanese Nationals title earlier this season. However, a fall on her triple Lutz and a step out on her triple flip saw her hopes of winning fall away and she had to settle for the silver medal. Her total competition score ended up being 181.59 and she will look to regroup in the weeks between Four Continents and the World Championships in Shanghai in March.

This season’s Rostelecom Cup Champion Rika Hongo of Japan got called out on two under-­rotations, one on the second jump of her triple flip-­triple toe loop combination and the other on her triple Salchow that was part of her double Axel-­half loop­-triple Salchow combination. The rest of her “Carmen” free skate was clean, however, and she was able to skate to the bronze medal with a combined score of 177.44.

Like the U.S. Championships a few weeks ago, 2014 U.S. Champion Gracie Gold came into the free skate in second place, but this time, a series of uncharacteristic jumping mistakes including popping her triple Lutz into a single and not being able to execute a triple ­triple combination saw her fall to fourth place for the competition with a total score of 176.58. The favorite coming into Seoul, Gold will also look to improve before the World Championships so that she will be able to perform her “Phantom of the Opera” free skate to her full potential.

“It was a difficult competition for me,” Gold stated, “I skated poorly in both segments of competition. I’m sorry about that.”

China’s Zijun Li managed to use her “Moon River” program to secure a fifth place finish at Four Continents, which is her best international showing of the season after finishing sixth at Cup of China and seventh at the NHK Trophy. Other than one edge call on her triple Lutz, she skated cleanly for a top five result and a total score of 175.92.

Canadian Champion Gabrielle Daleman skated a completely clean performance to “En Aranjuez con tu amor” that moved her up from eighth after the short program to seventh where she finished the competition with a combined score of 167.09.

Team USA’s Samantha Cesario also had no falls in her “Carmen” free skate and amassed 166.76 points while connecting beautifully to the music in what she has announced will be her last usage of that program.

“I really feel the character and am comfortable skating to the music,” Cesario said after her free skate, “This was my last time doing “Carmen” and it felt good. I’m happy it ended with this program.”

Though not boasting a particularly deep field of competitors, the ladies event at the 2015 Four Continents Championships was interesting down to the last program as many of the skaters look to continue their momentum or look to improve in anticipation of the upcoming World Championships in Shanghai. It will be fascinating to see how the results in Seoul prove to mirror or go against those to come in several weeks.