Home Figure Skating News Haein Lee catapults to gold at Four Continents

Haein Lee catapults to gold at Four Continents

by Paula Slater
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Haein Lee

South Korea’s Haein Lee performs her free skate at the 2023 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

2023 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships
Women’s Free Skate

South Korea’s Haein Lee catapulted to gold at the 2023 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships on Friday night. The defending silver medalist was in sixth place following the short program yesterday. Teammate and overnight leader Yelim Kim slipped to second, while Japan’s Mone Chiba rose up from seventh to capture the bronze.

USA’s Isabeau Levito, who stood in second after the short program yesterday, did no show up for the six-minute warm-up for the free skate. It was later announced by United States Figure Skating that the 15-year-old was “not feeling well” and would not compete. No further information was given at press time.

Lee gave a brilliant routine to music from Phantom of the Opera which featured a total of seven clean triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-triple toe. All jumps received positive grades of execution (GOE), as did all other elements in her routine. The GOEs for the level-four footwork and final combination spin were particularly high. In the end, the 17-year-old earned a new season’s best for both the free skate and total score (141.71/210.84) to win the title.

Lee noted how strong the competition was and plans to continue to train hard.

“I always try to do my best!” she said. “Last year, I got the silver medal at Four Continents, but this year, I tried not to focus on the final results and just on the training, and I think I did well. I really didn’t expect the first place, I just wanted to medal.”

The high school student from Seoul particularly enjoyed the audience.

“I really like Americans, they gave me a lot of good energy and power to give a good performance!” said Lee. “[During] COVID-19, I really wanted to skate with an audience. Tthey are really helpful to me to do my program well.”

Going into Worlds, the skater just wants to skate clean and get a level four for her spins and footwork. However, she’s contemplating the triple Axel for next season.

“I always want to do the triple Axel in my program,” said Lee. “I know that’s it’s an important jump, but triple-triple jumps are important, too.”

Kim opened her “Summer Of 42” routine with an excellent triple Lutz-triple toe, and followed up with triple loop, triple toe and triple flip-double Axel sequence. However, she underrotated the front end of a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop before underrotating and two-footing the landing of a triple Salchow. All three spins were graded a level four, while the footwork was a level three and the 2022 Four Continents bronze medalist placed third in the free skate with 136.45 points. With a total score of 209.29, however, she was able to settle for second place overall.

“I made one mistake at the last jump, so I’m a little sad about that,” said the 20-year-old. “Starting this morning, my back was hurting, so I’m just very thankful and I just focused on what I practiced. I really want a clean program at Worlds, and I will work hard.”

Chiba’s opening triple Lutz-triple toe was called a quarter underrotated on the back end, but the Japanese national junior silver medalist was otherwise solid. She landed a total of five more triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop in her debut at this event. She was also rewarded with hoards of positive GOEs for level-four layback spin in her routine to “Butterfly Lovers.” The 17-year-old collected a new personal best score of 137.70 for second place in the free skate, and with a total score of 204.98, rose from seventh to third overall.

“I was pretty happy that I was able to skate clean, but I felt like my skating was a bit small today,” said Chiba in the mixed zone. “But overall, I am pretty satisfied.”

Chiba also stated that she plans to train quads and the triple Axel next season.

South Korea’s Chaeyeon Kim stepped out of a triple flip and fell on a triple flip (meant to be a combination), but was otherwise flawless in her routine to “Poeta En El Viento” by Vincent Amigo. The 2022-23 Junior Grand Prix bronze medalist otherwise produced four solid triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-triple toe. All spins were graded a level four, while the footwork was given a level three, and she placed fifth in the free skate with 131.00 points. The skater, third after the short, slipped to fourth overall with a total score of 202.39 points in her debut at this event.

The 16-year-old felt “sad” and stated that she didn’t do “well.” Her next competition will be at Worlds in March.

Rinka Watanabe of Japan, who was eighth after a sub-par short, finished fourth in the free skate and fifth overall (134.90/200.50). Only three skaters, including herself, attempted the triple Axel, and she was the only one to land it clean. Her routine to music from the Jin soundtrack also featured a triple loop-triple toe and triple flip, as well as level-four spins and footwork. The only other errors came when the 2022 Skate Canada Champion popped a Lutz in a double Axel sequence and slightly underrotated a solo triple Lutz.

“I felt pretty calm today,” said the 20-year-old. “After my mistake on the Lutz, I think that overall was pretty good today! I hope for two clean skates at Worlds and am very nervous, but also excited looking ahead to that event!”

USA’s Bradie Tennell made small, but costly errors in her “Four Seasons” routine. The 2020 Four Continents bronze medalist slightly underrotated the front end of her opening triple Lutz-triple toe as well as a solo triple loop. She also underrotated the second jump in a double Axel-triple toe-double toe, as well as the first jump in a triple Lutz-double toe. However, all three spins and footwork were excellent and were rewarded with high GOEs. She finished sixth in the free skate and overall (130.42/199.91).

“I know I can do a lot better,” said the national silver medalist. “I was feeling sick last week and thought it was getting better, but today is by far the worst day. I feel like a frog, but competition didn’t ask about that.”

“I am proud about the way I kept myself under control and I am looking forward to going back to France to get ready for Worlds!” Tennell summed up.

Teammate Amber Glenn went for the triple Axel, however it was underrotated. She also fell on a triple Salchow, but otherwise landed total of six triple jumps. All spins were graded a level four, while the footwork was given a level three in her routine to “Without You.” The 2022 Skate America bronze medalist finished eighth in the free skate and slipped from fourth to seventh overall (122.87/192.50).

“I have not felt well for the last couple of days,” said the national bronze medalist. “We are all a bit under the weather. I haven’t really come down since nationals. I can’t say this was a performance I am proud of, but I can say I stayed in a decent mental place.”

Glenn also added that she was happy for Lee and missed training with her.

Japan’s Hana Yoshida fell on a triple Axel attempt and three of her jumps were a quarter underrotated. She finished eighth overall (189.60), followed by Canada’s Sara-Maude Dupuis (170.67) and Madeline Schizas (159.73).

“I wanted to land my triple Axel, but all other jumps were good, so I am satisfied!” said Yoshida. “Maybe I will have another competition in April, but this was my biggest competition. I want to come back even stronger next season!”

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