2020 Four Continents
Pairs’ Short Program
Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro found themselves in a surprising first place after the Pairs’ Short Program in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday afternoon. China’s Cheng Peng and Yang Jin are currently in second, followed by teammates Wenjing Sui and Cong Han. Only a little over three points separate the top three teams.
Defending silver medalists Moore-Towers and Marinaro earned a new personal best of 76.36 after a solid performance to “Love On the Brain”, which featured a triple twist, throw triple loop, and triple toes. The lift and spin were both graded a level 4.
“Overall, we’re happy with our performance,” said Moore-Towers. “Our goal this week was to build on our performance at our national championship a couple of weeks ago, and I feel we did that. We still left a few points on the table on the smaller elements, so we know we still have a few more points to gain.”
The two-time and current Canadian champions learned a great deal from the Grand Prix Final where they finished fifth this season. Since then, whey have worked with their choreographer to revamp their programs.
“We let our bodies and our minds rest a little bit, so that we could build back up for nationals,” said Moore-towers. “Training overall, has been going really well. Four Continents is always a bit of a tricky competition for the North American skaters, because it is in such close proximity to our national championships. We trusted our coaches and figured out how we could do it the best for this competition and so far it has been going well.”
Moore-Towers and Marinaro are big fans of Sui and Han and admire their skating.
“Any time the reigning world champions (Sui and Han) are at an event, they push us, and they push everyone,” said Moore-Towers. “We appreciate how much they improved over the year and hope we have our own improvement. We try not to focus on the results too much, but we are always striving for first place. We never show up at a competition hoping for second.”
Current bronze medalists Peng and Yang sit in second with a new personal best of 75.96 after their skate to “Alegria” from Cirque du Soleil. The 2019-20 Grand Prix silver medalists produced triple toes, a triple twist, and earned a level 4 on the spin and lift.
“We are quite satisfied with our performance today,” said Jin. “We feel the program is improving every time.”
“We had a hard time after the Grand Prix Final,” Pang confessed. “We have worked a lot with our coaches, but then I was sick and I had a leg injury.”
Sui and Han didn’t have their best skate, but made no major mistakes other than to double their throw triple flip. Sui blamed this on her costume.
“We had the (same) problem in the Grand Prix Final,” she said. “I told my partner, but he said ‘it ‘s okay, it won’t happen again.’ The problem is, when he throws me, it flies too much.”
The 2018 Olympic silver medalists otherwise showed triple toes, a good level 4 triple twist, death spiral, and lift. Their sultry routine to “Blues Deluxe” earned them 73.17 points.
“After the Grand Prix Final, we kept training hard and fixed a lot of problems,” said Han. “My body is getting better and I kept training, that is good news for us. After this short program, we still find a lot of problems with the step sequence and maybe we’ll fix it.”
Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson are in fourth after their performance to “Light of the Seven”. While she stepped out the triple Salchows, the U.S. National silver medalists were otherwise clean, landing a triple twist, throw triple Lutz and earning a level 4 on the death spiral, spin, and lift.
“I think our performance as a whole went well,” said Calalang. “Aside from the bobble on the jump, I feel like we stayed focused and continued going through the performance.”
“I thought it was well skated,” agreed Johnson. “We were just going for doing the best we can, we practiced.”
Three-time and current U.S. national champions Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Christopher Knierim found themselves in fifth place (63.14) after she fell on the triple toes and he missed the entrance to the change combination spin.
Knierim said their preparation coming into the event was “good” and that although it was a difficult week, there were no “big issues.”
“We were training with fatigue from the week before, but we did well and worked hard,” said Scimeca Knierim.