From February 16 – 19, this year’s Four Continents Championships took place in Gangneung, South Korea. Japan sent three male skaters, three female skates, two teams of pairs skaters, and two ice dance teams to this event. In the end, the Japanese team won three medals, one of each color.
Mai Mihara won the women’s portion of the Four Continents Championships with a total score of 200.85, 3.94 points ahead of Canadian Gabrielle Daleman. This score is a new personal best combined score for Mai. Her short program was given a score of 66.51, placing her in fourth place, 0.36 points behind Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan. After her largely error-free short program, Mai said, “I skated right until the end with a real feeling of enjoyment. It’s a bit disappointing that I was fourth, but I am happy to be in the final group. I’m determined, whatever the circumstances, to skate through the free program without any mistakes.”
Mai’s free skate received a score of 134.34, the highest of the night, 2.3 points ahead of American Mirai Nagasu. Mai’s free skate score was a new personal best. After her error-free free skate, she said, “I can’t believe I have finished in first place. It’s like a dream. I had a lot of support and that really provided me with power.”
Yuzuru Hanyu placed second in the men’s portion of the event with a total score of 303.71, 3.75 points behind American Nathan Chen. Yuzuru nailed his opening quad loop, but his second quad turned into a double salchow-triple toe loop combination. “There is still work for me to do and I am left with a few regrets but I think I was able to do what I could. I just have to try and improve the things I am doing,” he said afterwards. He continued, saying that his mistake on his quad salchow came about as a result of overthinking. “I’m sorry about the jump. The quad loop has been consistent in practice and I felt that the expression was good and I was able to connect with the audience. I think if I had landed the salchow, I would have had even more expression. I want to use this feeling towards the free skating and I want to skate stronger.”
Yuzuru’s free skate was the highest ranked of the night, with a score of 206.67, 2.33 points ahead of Nathan. “This is my third silver medal at the Four Continents and I enjoyed this one the most, Yuzuru later said. “I felt the threat posed by Nathan, but he will push me beyond my limit, no doubt about that. More than anything else, I want to get back to practice as soon as possible.”
Shoma Uno placed third with a total score of 288.05, 15.66 points behind his teammate Yuzuru. This score is a new personal best combined score for Shoma. His short program was the second best of the night, with a score of 100.28, 2.84 points behind Nathan. Shoma opened with a slightly shaky quad flip, but then landed a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combo. His excellent performance result in a new personal best short program score, one which enabled him to crack the 100 point barrier in the short program for the first time. “I prepared well both mentally and physically,” Shoma said. “I am happy that finally for the first time this season I have pulled all my jumps together. I am relieved. I can perform even better and get an even better score.” He continued, adding, “I’m happy with my jumps, but I don’t think I was giving enough energy to the other elements. The jumps weren’t exactly fantastic either. I had problems with the short program the whole season, so I’m relieved about how it went today.”
Shoma’s free skate was the third best of the night with a score of 187.77, 16.57 points behind Nathan. After falling on his triple axel, Shoma said, “I was able to complete a quad toeloop in competition and it’s something I couldn’t execute in practice. (Falling) was a result of me taking it for granted that I could nail the jump just because it’s a triple axel.”
Wakaba Higuchi finished in ninth place with a score of 172.05. “I don’t think I have ever performed that badly,” she later said. “I want to make use of this experience and produce a convincing, error-free performance at the World Championships.”
Rika Hongo, who replaced the injured defending champion Satoko Miyahara, finished in tenth place with a score of 167.42. “I think I have to reflect on the glaring mistakes I made on my jumps,” she said. “I’ll try and perform better at the Asian Winter Games (starting in Sapporo on Sunday).”
Keiji Tanaka finished in 13th place with a score of 220.18. The pair of Sumire Suto and Francis Boudreau-Audet finished in tenth place with a score of 164.96. The pair of Miu Suzaki and Ryuichi Kihara finished in 13th place with a score of 130.85. The ice dancing team of Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed finished in ninth place with a score of 140.38. The ice dancing team of Emi Hirai and Marien de la Asuncion finished in 12th place with a score of 121.71.
Up next is the World Championships, which take place in Helsinki, Finland on March 29 – April 2. Japan’s team is The team is composed of Yuzuru Hanyu, Shoma Uno, Keiji Tanaka, Satoko Miyahara, Wakaba Higuchi, Mai Mihara, Sumire Suto / Francis Boudreau Audet, and Kana Muramoto / Chris Reed.