Every year since it began in 1999, the Four Continents Championship has slowly been finding its identity. Generally speaking, it’s intended to be the European Championships for Non-Europeans… an event that comes between a given country’s Nationals and Worlds that helps with the fine tuning… for those participants who are indeed headed to Worlds, that is. But sometimes it seems much more like the equivalent of college basketball’s National Invitation Tournament—a “consolation prize” for those that don’t make the Worlds team. Problem is, its intent varies from country to country—and I’m not even including the needs of all the involved nations that seldom make it to the Worlds Finals.
Here’s what 4CC seemed to mean this year to the following athletes:
Virtue/Moir: an opportunity for last year’s OGMs to make their long-delayed season debut. Unfortunately, their mission was cut short when Virtue developed severe pain shortly after the Free Dance got started (reportedly unrelated to her chronic pain issues in her legs), and the team had to withdraw. Davis/White ended up with the win.
Shibutanis: a chance to show off another step in their highly impressive senior debut season. And that they did, taking silver over both Crone/Poirier and Weaver/Poje.
Miki Ando and Mao Asada: One more chance to go head-to-head prior to Worlds on their home turf. (They finished 1-2, respectively.)
Mirai Nagasu and Rachael Flatt: Their second and, presumably, last chance to go head-to-head for the season. They finished 3-4, respectively. (Somehow I think Flatt, with her third consecutive World birth, still has the upper hand.)
Alissa Czisny: since she actually used the “fine tuning” term in press conferences, we’ll just hope her 5th place, sub-par (for this season, at least) performance is her way of leaving her worries behind her en route to Tokyo next month.
Jeremy Abbott and Kevin Reynolds: These two were definitely in the aforementioned Consolation Mode, since neither of them are Worlds-bound. But they handled this opportunity in pretty different ways, if their performances are any indication: One guy (Abbott) hunkered down and posted a seasons’ best score (though it was only good enough for bronze); the other simply hunkered down… and didn’t really get up. (My way of saying Reynolds—last year’s bronze medalist—finished down in 11th this time.)
Adam Rippon: A place to show off his new haircut (yes, sorry to say, the blond ringlets are shorn for now). Sorry to say it didn’t help his triple axel situation. Last year’s 4CC Champ had to settle for 5th. But to be fair, last year Rippon wasn’t facing the reigning World Champ in this event (Daisuke Takahashi, who took the title this time).
Pang/Tong: Bragging rights. What else can you say about a team that has been at this event almost as many years as it has existed… and picked up their 5th 4CC gold this time?
Everyone in pairs but Pang/Tong: experience. And hopefully, in the case of Evora/Ladwig, 4CC will also mean a new skate boot or two. If you didn’t see what happened to them (I alluded to it last time), check out this Clip of the day.