The 2007 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, which is taking place Feb. 7-10 in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the equivalent to the European Figure Skating Championships and was first introduced by the ISU in 1999.
Twenty-one countries on four continents are eligible to send skaters to the event. This season, approximately 86 skaters from 14 different countries have come to compete in Colorado Springs, which also hosted last year’s competition.
By competing at the Four Continents, the athletes will be earning points toward the World Standings for the 2006-07 season. Personal best scores are not taken into consideration (in terms of World Standings) as they only apply to Grand Prix competitions.
The ISU will be awarding prize money totaling $250,000 to skaters and couples that place first through 12th. In addition, the top three skaters and couples per discipline having earned the most World Standing points during the 2006-07 season will be awarded with a World Standings Bonus totaling $450,000 US Dollars.
The event kicked off on 7 Feb with the Compulsory Dance, Pairs Short, and Men’s Short.
Canada’s Marie-France Dubreuil (32) and Patrice Lauzon (31) put out a romantic waltz that exhibited good speed and flow, placing first with 38.54 points.
Due to the high altitude, Lauzon was clearly affected after the performance. It took him a few moments to catch his breath.
“It’s a pretty hard compulsory dance,” said Lauzon. “[There’s] not much breathing time in it. For the dance and altitude, we did pretty good.”
“It felt quick,” said Dubreuil. “I think it was a pretty good dance for us. Skating first is always a little more nerve wracking with the altitude. We didn’t warm up because we wanted still to have some juice for the performance.”
Dubreuil has been suffering from vertigo due to an inner ear infection over the last few months.
“A piece of my inner ear shifted,” she explained. “Every time I turned my head I had vertigo. It was almost like a wrestling match [with my head] for a couple of seconds. It was interesting.”
Lauzon is unfazed and amazed.
“To me, every time she feels sick or injured, when she gets on the ice she’s always amazing,” he said. “I don’t see the difference. To me, she’s always as good as she is.”
Close behind in second with 37.72 points, were U.S. Champions Tanith Belbin (22) and Benjamin Agosto (25). The team delivered a confident dance that displayed good character, however Agosto stumbled in a corner during the second pattern of the waltz.
Agosto anticipated the questions from reporters, blurting: “Yes, I tripped in the corner. Basically my toe pick got caught on the ice, but it was OK because the rest of it was good.”
“It was still a good performance and the fact that we are less than a point behind the leaders puts us in a good position,” added Belbin.
In their first debut at this event, Meryl Davis (20) and Charlie White (19) did extraordinarily well, displaying confidence in their waltz as well as good interpretation of the music. They are currently third with 33.68 points.
The team skated the same waltz at the US Championships almost three weeks ago. “It helps a lot,” said Davis. “If we’d had only a week to train the Golden [Waltz], it would have been a lot more difficult.”
“It’s been an interesting ride doing this dance,” added White. “At first we thought it was almost hopeless, but you get into it and you start to feel it.”
Canada’s Tessa Virtue (17) and Scott Moir (19), who also put out a precise dance with good matching lines, are close behind with 33.41 points.
Teammates Lauren Senft (19) and Leif Gislason (23) are currently fifth, followed by USA’s Kimberly Navarro (25) and Brent Bommentre (22) who earned a new personal best of 29.37 points.