2024 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships: Women
Japan’s Mone Chiba commanded the Women’s event at the Four Continents, taking the gold on Friday in Shanghai, China. Chaeyeon Kim of South Korea captured the silver, while Rinka Watanabe of Japan moved up to grab the bronze.
Chiba skated a quality short program to “Les Yeux Noirs.” She landed triple flip-triple toe, double Axel and triple Lutz. The only glitch was an edge call on the latter jump. She capitalized on the nuances of the music in her level-four steps and all three spins were also graded a level four. She scored a new personal best of 71.10 for first place.
“Since I’m competing in figure skating, I want to be able to express a little more, or rather, be able to express myself no matter how nervous I am,” said Chiba. “At Inter-high [National competition] before I arrived here, I had a fall on my triple-triple which initially shook my confidence. So, I was worried at first. But since coming here, I was in good condition, so I thought I just had to believe in that. I was caught between worrying about what might happen if I fell and fought between those two moods while being nervous.”
“After my short today was over, I was relieved,” she said. “Towards the world championships, I want to make this a competition where I can have confidence and say I’ve given it my all.”
The Japanese national silver medalist produced a spectacular routine to Legend of 1900 which featured seven triple jumps. The only errors were a slightly underrotated triple flip and an edge call on a triple Lutz. All spins and footwork were awarded a level four. She placed first in the free skate and overall with two new personal best scores (143.88/214.98).
“I was so nervous today that my voice has gone hoarse,” said last year’s bronze medalist. “I’m glad I was able to focus on each jump ahead of me! I’ve landed my jumps until Lutz-Axel, and properly did my spin. I’ve always been able to land my final Lutz, so I jumped it with calmness, so finally at the end I felt happy. I think the people in the audience also have been clapping nervously until the Lutz-Axel, and felt happy after the final Lutz, so I think our feelings were the same, with the audience.”
Chiba relayed that she jumped well during the six-minute warmup and that it relaxed her.
“I was able to do a satisfying performance without any mistakes, which I think gave me confidence,” summed up the 18-year-old. “My goal for world championship is to have even more confidence compared to here and do a performance without any mistakes.”
Kim received an edge call on her solo flip in her short to “Pantomeme” and “Lillies of the Valley,” but that was the only error. The 17-year-old landed a solid double Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe, displaying level-four spins and footwork throughout. She picked up a new personal best of 69.77 for second place.
“I was very nervous, but I did everything, so I am really happy,” said Kim. “My goal is to skate a clean free skate and not be too nervous. I want to thank everyone for their support!”
The 2023 Skate Canada silver medalist placed third with a new personal best in the free skate (134.91) with her dramatic routine to selections from Le Bal des folles. She fell on a underrotated triple Salchow and received an edge call on both triple flips. However, she showed very good level-four spins and earned the second highest program component scores. With a total score of 204.68, she was able to maintain second place overall.
“Yesterday I was in the second place after the short program,” Kim pointed out. “I said yesterday I was very nervous, almost shaking. So, before my turn today, all the coaches cheered me up at the rink. I actually pulled myself together. However, I made a mistake in one of the jumps. I was trying my best before the worlds.”
Kim went on to say that she didn’t get the “ideal” results she wanted, especially during the first half of the season.
“I wasn’t a medalist in the competitions in Korea,” she said. “So before coming to the Four Continents, I was worried that I could not make it to the top three. And indeed, I made some small mistakes during my performance. But the result is that I become a medalist. So that largely boosted my confidence. I found a way to kill my nervousness. In the future, I will work hard on the preparation and find more ways to get rid of the pressure to have better success.”
Skating to music from Avatar: The Way of Water, Watanabe landed a double Axel and triple Luz. Unfortunately, she slightly underrotated both jumps in a triple loop-triple toe, which was executed in the second half of the program. All spins and footwork were graded level four and she finished fourth in the short program with 67.22 points. It was still a season’s best for the 2023 Cup of China silver medalist.
“I was pretty nervous today,” admitted the 21-year-old. “I always feel more nervous about the short program and am usually more comfortable about the free skate. I think I did pretty well, and I am happy about a clean program.”
The skater shared that the music was her mother’s choice and that she learned how to do her makeup by a Japanese makeup artist.
“It’s a bit more European style, I think,” she said. “I think it’s really cool.”
Watanabe opened her free skate with a solid triple Axel, but then underrotated the backend of a triple loop-triple toe. She also popped a triple Lutz and underrotated the second one but landed a total of five clean triples. The triple Axel received +2.06 GOE and the level-four spins and footwork were very good. She placed second in the free skate with 134.95 points and moved up onto the podium with a total score of 202.17.
“I felt a bit scared today because I didn’t feel comfortable during the morning practice,” admitted Watanabe. “But the people around me cheered me up. I am not that happy with my score. I am happy I landed my triple Axel, but then I popped my Lutz. Oh well.”
Watanabe also revealed that she has been working on the quad loop and will continue to focus on it during the off season.
“Maybe also the quad Lutz,” she said. “The quad toe or Salchow don’t work for me.”
Ava Marie Ziegler
USA’s Ava Marie Ziegler received an edge call on the frontend of triple Lutz-triple toe but was otherwise solid her short program. Her sassy routine to “Jazz Man” also featured a triple flip and double Axel. The camel spin was graded a level three, but the other two spins and her footwork were awarded a level four. The 2023 NHK Trophy champion scored a new personal best of 68.14 for third place.
“It is a beautiful city here and I feel really honored and enjoy being here,” she said. “I am super happy pushing through today. The win at NHK opened my eyes with what I am capable of. It showed me that I can compete with the top. I think it was the right decision to skip nationals. I had some health issues and now I am feeling all fine again. My main goal for tomorrow is to enjoy my free skate.”
The 17-year-old put out a good free skate to “Liberation” and “Bound to You” which featured seven triple jumps. She received an edge call on both triple Lutz jumps, putting a foot down on the second, but all other jumps were solid. Two spins received a level four and she scored 132.94 points. With a total score of 201.19, she slipped off the podium to fourth overall.
“I was super happy with my skate today,” said Ziegler. “It’s been a tough two weeks, and I am happy how I pushed through and thankful to my team for helping me through. I had to choose one of the two competitions, either nationals or Four Continents, due to health reasons. And we chose the Four Continents.”
Seoyeong Wi of South Korea earned a new season’s best (64.44) for her short to music from Pride & Prejudice. Her routine featured a clean triple Lutz-triple toe, double Axel and triple loop. She placed sixth going into the free skate.
“I thought I would feel very nervous, but I wasn’t that much actually,” she said. “I feel good and happy. I aim to show my best possible performance at this event. I want to enjoy tomorrow’s free skate as much.”
The 18-year-old earned another season’s best (129.13) for her free skate to “Exogenesis: Symphony.” Her routine featured seven clean triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-triple toe. The only glitch came when she slightly underrotated the backend of a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop. She finished fifth in this segment and overall (193.57).
“Yesterday I said I wanted to do my best and I think I did,” said Wi. “Despite the practice not going well this morning, I could rely on my practice back home in Korea.
For the rest of my time here I want to cheer on my teammates.”
Madeline Schizas of Canada stood in ninth (61.57) after short program after two costly errors. The triple toe on the back end of a triple Lutz was slightly underrotated and she turned out the landing of a triple loop.
“I was pretty pleased with my performance,” she said. “I thought it was pretty clean when I skated it except for the turn out on the loop. I had a great preparation. I worked with my choreographer, and I think it showed in the step sequence where I was able to get a level four.”
The national silver medalist placed sixth (124.12) in the free skate with her routine to “Summertime.” She landed a triple loop on the quarter again, but the rest of her triple jumps were clean. The only other error came when she stepped out of a double Axel in the end of her program. She moved up three spots to sixth overall with a total score of 185.69.
“The scores look fair,” said the candid skater. “I am happy with my skate and scores and it was a step up from nationals. I am hoping to add more at the world championships in case I receive that nomination.”
“I got a new costume,” Schizas pointed out. “I needed new vibes after nationals. Piper had told me I could just wash off the bad vibes of the old costume.”
“I am excited to cheer on my teammates here now for the rest of the competition,” she said.
Japan’s Mai Mihara was off to a strong start in her short program, landing a good double Axel and triple flip. However, she took a tumble on her triple Lutz-triple toe, the latter jump being underrotated. The two-time Four Continents champion put out two level-four spins and footwork, placing fifth with 65.18 points.
The skater decided two days ago to use last season’s program to “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.”
“Practicing this program until now helped it become a good program,” said the 24-year-old. “I decided and was able to skate it with all my heart and soul. So, I’m glad about it. I hadn’t forgotten the timing, or the choreography, and I was able to skate like I’ve been practicing it all this time. It’s a program where I put a lot of emotions in. I’m happy that I was able to skate such an important program in a big competition like this.”
The 2022-23 Grand Prix Final champion finished seventh (118.96) in the free skate after her “Planets” routine. Unfortunately, there were many doubled jumps, and she only managed a clean triple loop. The triple Lutz had an edge call. With a total score of 184.07, she slipped to seventh overall.
The skater said her jumps felt good during the warmup, but that she started worrying about her leg.
“I think in this sport, if something crosses your mind, it has an impact on you,” she explained. “The part about strength is something that can only come out through practice. So even if you have a lot of confidence, the things you’ve progressed in competition, if you don’t have it in you, you’ll end up getting nervous among other things. That’s what sports is like. I’ve been doing this sport that makes you feel various emotions like this. And I feel very happy that I’m doing figure skating.”
Mihara expressed frustration and relayed that she felt this was as a result of not having enough practices.
“Although the morning practice was quite good, I feel disappointed and reflective about it,” she said. “There are lot of things like this, whether it’s about going to the previous Olympics, or if I had good results at the world championships. Lately I’ve really been experiencing things that made me strongly feel like I might not have been able to continue skating for this long. And the reason why I could skate for this long, until now, is really thanks to all the support from many people. I was able to feel various emotions in competitions, and I’ve thought many times that I will do my best in the next competition. I really feel like I’m getting stronger and stronger through skating. I’ll do my best again, as it’s not the end of the season from here.”
“I really feel the importance of practice,” Mihara summed up. ” I’m 24 years old, so I think it’ll only get tougher from now. But if I can do enough practices as much as I’ve done last season, I think the results will follow.”
Round out the top 10
After the short program, Lee said something had just “happened to her” that made her very “sad and stressed” prior to the event. That it was a “huge shock.”
“The practice went well, but it was hard to skate, she said of the short program. “I considered withdrawing but I decided to fight and compete.”
Lee fought through her free skate and said she was “a bit scared and afraid to jump today.”
“But I was standing on the ice and kept trying to skate and express my feelings of the program,” she said. “It didn’t go well today but I am glad that it’s over and I can rest now. The past is the past and I will try to move on. The worlds that are coming up are more important. This is not the end of my life. I will keep smiling and fight at worlds.”