Predictions: Four Continents 2015

Italy Figure Skating Worlds

See? I said I would put this up on time! The Four Continents Championships are upon us and it’s time to make some predictions! Like the European Championships, there will be a few interesting match-ups amidst the relatively weak roster including, the return of Pang & Tong!

As for my Euros recap post, I’m working on it so please bear with me.

Men

Without Yuzuru Hanyu in the mix, this competition will be an opportunity for some of the lower-ranked Japanese men to shine. Both Takahito Mura and Daisuke Murakami are interesting entries as I feel as if we haven’t seen them at their full potential yet. Mura put out some solid skates during the GP circuit despite finishing second-last in the GPF. Murakami on the other hand, could not qualify for the final as he only had one GP assignment, which he won quite unexpectedly. I have no doubt that these men will shine but their places in the ranks, I’m not so sure.

Shoma Uno is an interesting young skater who is showing a lot of promise and placed higher than the previously mentioned men at Japanese Nationals – 2nd in fact. The way Uno skates is a little mind boggling to me. His choreography looks as if it’s from Lori Nichol but according to the ISU site, it’s not. As for the way he has mastered his edges, I just see all the positive qualities of Patrick Chan’s skating skills in this young skater. The way his blades caress the ice after landing a jump is perfection. The only weaknesses he has at the moment are his performance quality and a lack of exposure to international senior competitions, which may hurt his scores here. Nonetheless, I look forward to seeing how he does in the competition. A medal here would set him up well and give him some momentum for his next season. I would also not be surprised if this kid was good enough to give Yuzuru a fair challenge in upcoming competitions.
A few other competitors to consider would be the current Canadian and U.S. National Champions, Nam Nguyen and Jason Brown. Nguyen has shown that he can pull off some great skates – it’s a little hard to believe that such a small boy could be skating with such fluidity and confidence. At the same time, he also seems to be suffering the Canadian men’s curse of inconsistency. Jason Brown, on the other hand, delivers and is a much better performer, however, unlike Nguyen, he doesn’t have a quad. That may have been okay back in the Olympic cycle leading up to Vancouver 2010 but a quadless skater will have a much tougher time making it big post-2010 due to rule changes in how quads are scored and from how many young skaters are doing them flawlessly.

My predictions here will very likely be off their mark – there is a chance we’ll see a Japanese men sweep if all three produce great performances but Nguyen and Brown are also competitors to watch out for. I’ll take a stab at these predictions (aka, I’m going with a complete guess) and see what happens:

Predictions:

Gold: Shoma Uno
Silver: Takahito Mura
Bronze: Jason Brown

Ladies

The 4CC competition marks the return of Gracie Gold on the international stage. Although she lost to Ashley Wagner at U.S. Nationals, the field at 4CC is relatively weak. Although Gold’s programs this year are rather… boring, she has enough skating skills and political backing to win this competition.

The only person who could challenge Gold for the top spot is newly crowned Japanese National Champion, Satoko Miyahara. Miyahara’s weakness is definitely her underrotations, which can be costly if the technical panel decides to be tough on her – something that I wouldn’t doubt that they’d do given the right political pressure. Unfortunately, Satoko doesn’t quite have the political backing that Gold has and my expectations for the judging are low. The best I can hope for is another great performance of her Miss Saigon LP. If that does happen, then her standings at the end of the competition won’t really matter to me.

To round off the podium with a few other skaters who may be able to take home some hardware, I point to Rika Hongo, who skated well enough to earn a spot in the GPF this season and Polina Edmunds, who placed 4th at U.S. Nationals. Both of these competitors may not be able to aim for the top spot but a medal finish should give them some confidence, momentum and experience to draw on for next season.

Again, predictions for this event will be hard to determine so I’ll take another huge guess at the podium. Expect this to be very, very wrong.

Predictions:

Gold: Gracie Gold
Silver: Satoko Miyahara
Bronze: Rika Hongo

Pairs

The pairs event will be exciting as it marks the return of Qing Pang & Jian Tong. Although this pair is beloved by many fans, from their results last season, as well as their late start, I don’t expect them to beat Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford. Pang & Tong finished below Stolbova & Klimov in Sochi and so far, Duhamel & Radford’s results in the GPF have shown that they trump S&K this season, making them the team to beat. Unless Duhamel & Radford make some really terrible mistakes, I expect their dominance this season to continue into the Four Continents competition.

The battle for bronze, however, will likely come down to a battle between Wenjing Sui & Cong Han and Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang. While the former team has matured and improved after missing the Olympics last year, the latter seems to have stalled on their amazing progress. Peng & Zhang’s partnership and connection are good, as it was last season, but they seem to be struggling with the more technical elements of their skating lately with Peng missing most of their side-by-side jumps. From the results so far this season, it seems as if Sui & Han have the advantage in this battle.

Predictions

Gold: Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford
Silver: Qing Jian & Pang Tong
Bronze: Wenjing Sui & Cong Han

Ice Dance

While the European Championships became a confirmation that Cappellini & Lanotte will no longer be the top European team going into the World Championships, the Four Continents competition will be a chance for Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje to prove their dominance in ice dance outside of Europe.

In terms of the podium, this competition is really a Canada vs. USA match as two teams from both countries have a chance at getting a medal. The team who will be the likely challengers for gold against Kaitlyn & Andrew will be Madison Chock & Evan Bates. As usual, this team is strong technically but their programs are rather… dull. Then again, Weaver & Poje’s programs are not the most inspiring either but the top Canadian team are skating strong this season and should be the ones to beat at this competition.

The match-up for the bronze medal should be between Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier and the sibling team of Maia & Alex Shibutani. While Gilles & Poirier have steadily improved (and risen in the ranks in part due to the retirement of many of the top teams), the Shibutani siblings have taken quite a few falls in terms of their standing since their debut senior season and I’m not sure if I see any progress in terms of their program material or their skating. Right now, I wonder if a change of coaching team may be beneficial in an attempt to claim the top spot in U.S. ice dance. For them, claiming that top spot would be the first step in getting back on that upward trajectory in international competitions.

Predictions

Gold: Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
Silver: Madison Chock & Evan Bates
Bronze: Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier

What do you think will be the outcome for this year’s 4CC? Let me know your predictions in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. burdens
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 09:38:04

    I’d take Jason Brown over all the guys in 4CC. His programs are balanced, even without quads he can still gain points in other areas and his spins are excellent. Joshua Farrish lack exposure but if he can land his jumps he’s a joy to watch. Shoma is good but his jumps don’t look impressive. He is very till in the air when see live. I can see him as another Daisuke but if he just copy Daisuke I’d say I’d rather watch Dai because right now Shoma is just very Dai, he has no distinctive style. He is consistent but he hasn’t had to faced huge pressure like other top Japanese men so I’d say his consistency is not guaranteed. Same for Nam, he’s consistent but he’s slow and his skating lacks the wow factor. Takahiro Mura is inconsistent but who knows, maybe he can repeat SC.

    Reply

  2. chasingpolaris
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 13:58:16

    Pretty much agree with your predictions except for Shoma. I don’t think he will win gold right now but he may surprise us. He’s being dubbed by the Japanese media as the new/baby Daisuke and I can definitely see it in his artistry. But I wouldn’t say he doesn’t have his own style. It’s probably not that apparent yet and I think some of us are still hanging onto the hope of seeing someone with Daisuke’s level on the ice that we let that cloud our judgment. Shoma is still young and needs time to develop. I’d rather let him win bronze or silver so that he can reach and work his way up for the gold.

    Reply

    • rinksidecafe
      Feb 05, 2015 @ 18:44:14

      That’s very interesting that the media is painting to be a mini-Daisuke. I don’t think he emotes as well as Daisuke and in terms of his skating, he reminds me of a mini-Patrick Chan. His edge control is impressive for a boy his age. If he tried ice dance just for fun, I would not be surprised if we discover that he’s quite good at it.

      Reply

      • chasingpolaris
        Feb 09, 2015 @ 10:06:18

        I think the Japanese media is dubbing him that name because his favorite skater is Daisuke. If he can skate like Patrick and be as artistic as Daisuke’s level then I think we’ll be seeing another great champion.

  3. burdens
    Feb 15, 2015 @ 15:21:01

    Men: Denis Ten was wonderful. I love his long program better than the SP though. He was scored quite generously since he has some questionable landing IMO but he deserves the win. However, I’m worried that Denis has already peaked here in 4CC and that might hurt his chance at World.
    Josh was very delighted to watch. I love his SP, very lyrical. But his LP not so much. He’s an emotional guy but that’s why I don’t enjoy his LP since he uses that music. I don’t get the hype about that LP. But kudos to him for good performances. He has good skating skill but not very fast though. He’s vey neat.
    Han Yan was much better than in the GP. Good job. Both of his programs suit him very well.
    Daisuke Murakami should have been on the podium, he was so clean, pity for him since other men did well. But I am alright with Han Yan and Joshua.
    So as I have expected they gave Shoma the PCS for senior men. But other men did better so he’s still off the podium. I was there among the audience, Shoma was fast but his jumps are very low. I’m baffled that he got high GOE for many of his jumps which I find very suspicious.
    As for the ladies: Polina looks better live. I don’t like her programs but she skated the best here. Her jumps look beautiful live, I didn’t expect that.
    Satoko is a bit disappointing. She is very fast, she attacks every jumps with good speed. But she lacks presence on ice, and she lack projections. Watching her through TV is better than live. Her SP was too childish. Her LP was much better.
    Rika has good jumps and good mentality but nothing more. Her posture needs major adjustment.
    I don’t event want to mention Gracie Gold.
    Pairs: D/R have huge technical content but they look like they’re bot a pair. While I can understand their TES, their PCS is just incomprehensible.
    P/Z look creepy and mismatched. The end.
    P/T are the most elegant and beautiful, lyrical and romantic.
    S/H got robbed. They should have been in the second. P/T with the bronze is right. They should have gotten higher PCS.

    Reply

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