Ice dancers Weaver and Poje take bronze at Four Continents, while Patrick Chan sits fifth

Ice dancers Weaver and Poje take bronze at Four Continents, while Patrick Chan sits fifth

Canadian skaters endured a bumpy ride at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, the last major international event before the world championships in March in Boston.

Three-time world champion Patrick Chan is only fifth after the men’s short program Friday in Taipei City, while ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje took the bronze medal. Weaver and Poje have had undefeated Grand Prix seasons the past two years and won Four Continents last year.  

Canadian silver medalist Liam Firus is 14th of 23 men after falling on a quadruple toe loop jump, while bronze medalist Kevin Reynolds fell four times and is in 20th place.   

In ice dancing, all three Canadian teams finished in the top six, with Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier fifth and relative newcomers Elisabeth Paradis and Francois-Xavier Ouellette sixth. Paradis and Ouellette had to stop part way through their free dance when Paradis’ costume came undone at the neck. Ouellette quickly fastened it back up again, but did not realize that they could not restart the program. Still, they delivered their season’s best score of 86.79, losing three points for the miscue.  

Most importantly, although Paradis and Ouellette were named to the world team after finishing third at the Canadian championships, they did not have the minimum technical score of 29.00 points in the short dance, needed to actually compete at the event. They scored 31.95 in Taipei.

For Chan, Four Continents was a chance to fire off a short program that sizzled, something he hasn’t done all season in international competition. At the Canadian championship last month, he finally seemed to conquer his “Mack the Knife” routine, and earned 103.58 points for it. But internationally, he hadn’t earned more than 80.81.

However, Chan couldn’t get a grip on the ice in the arena all week.

“With the way I skate, I like to really use the ice to set my timing and the feedback I get from the ice is very important,” he said. The result? He didn’t feel confident on the ice – and it showed. While he had landed a quad-triple combination at the Canadian championship, he put a hand down on the quad in Taipei, rendering him incapable of doing the second part. And on his triple Axel – always his nemesis – he scraped a free foot on the ice on landing. He was able to turn his triple Lutz into a combination by adding a double toe loop on the end of it.

It wasn’t a terrible performance, and it earned him his season’s best score of 86.22. However, he’s a whopping 17.26 points behind the short-program leader, young Chinese skater Boyang Jin, who astonishes everybody with his rare quadruple Lutz – triple toe loop combination. Jin earned 19.74 points for his combination. He’s the only man who attempts it.

Chan will have to face Jin at the world championships in another month, but he still isn’t rushing to fill the technical gap. “I’m still really happy with my skate,” Chan said. “Just wanted to stay on my feet and play it smart, not making major mistakes.

Young Japanese star Shoma Uno is second, about 6 ½ points behind the leader and another Chinese skater, Han Yan, is third.

Weaver and Poje were outpointed by new U.S. champions Maia and Alex Shibutani, who first began to chalk up huge scores at NHK Trophy in Japan a couple of months ago. The 108.76 points they earned for the free dance in Taipei is the second-highest of the season, behind only the Canadian champions, who have 109.91 from the Grand Prix Final.

On Friday, Poje fumbled a twizzle, then set a foot down on a rotational spin. Little niggly mistakes throughout lowered their levels of difficulty. They finished the free dance with 101.43, which put them only fourth behind three American teams. Overall, the Canadians finished third, 7.77 points behind the Shibutanis. The silver medal went to former U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates.