By Johanna Bear
While the winner was never in doubt after the short program, the rest of the men’s event at the 2015 Four Continents Championships proved to be exciting and unpredictable down to the last skater. 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan threw down the gauntlet from the beginning of his program with a nearly perfect quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination that earned a massive 16.69 points en route to a free skate score of 191.85 points and a total competition score of 289.46. Ten’s total score is the third highest ever recorded at an International Skating Union (ISU) championship. This is his second international gold medal this season. He took the top spot at Golden Spin earlier this season.
After sitting in fifth place after the short program, Team USA’s Joshua Farris performed his beautiful “Schindler’s List” program with the kind of form that saw him capture the bronze medal at the U.S. Championships only a few weeks ago. All of the elements of his Program Component Score (PCS) for interpretation and skating skills earned over 8.00 points and his PCS score totaled 84.70, the second highest of the event, only behind Ten. His competition score was 260.01, good enough for the silver medal.
“Considering I wasn’t expecting it, I’m ecstatic,” Farris toldon winning the silver. “I worked very hard and I feel like I deserve the skates I had and I’m proud. I didn’t skate perfect here and I don’t think I have peaked yet. I’m saving my best performances for the World Championships.”
2012 World Junior Champion Han Yan of China followed his “If I Were a Rich Man” short program up with an equally playful and entertaining free skate to “Fly Me to the Moon.” His huge triple Axel-triple toe loop combination earned 15.46 points that contributed greatly to his total score of 259.47. The bronze medal that he received for his performances in Seoul is his best result of the season to this point after an eighth place finish at the Trophée Bompard and a sixth place at the Cup of China.
This season’s NHK Trophy Champion Daisuke Murakami of Japan also moved up the leader board in the free skate, coming up from sixth place to finish fourth overall, and 17-year-old Junior Grand Prix Final Champion Shoma Uno fell from second place after the short program to finish fifth after a shaky free skate.
Newly crowned U.S. Champion Jason Brown put together a solid free skate to the music of “Tristan and Iseult.” After attempting the quadruple toe loop in competition for the first time in the short program, Brown sat in 9th place after his quad was downgraded to a triple and his triple axel was under-rotated. However, his cleanly executed triples in the free skate were reminiscent of his performances at the U.S. Championships in Greensboro and allowed him to move up and finish in sixth place.
“I’m really excited. It was nice to start fresh and perform the way I know I can, ” Brown exclaimed. “I had such a great experience here. Flying to Korea and competing in Asia. It’s cool that the World Championships are also in Asia. To get this practice right before is great. I’m looking forward to taking this experience and learning from it.”
U.S. silver medalisthad a better showing in the free skate than in the short program, though the deductions from three under-rotated jumps prevented him from climbing higher than tenth where he finished the event.
“It was difficult to come here from the U.S. Championships because there were a lot of emotions, ” Rippon told U.S. Figure Skating. “I wanted to do my best to be on this team and the world team. I came here to get more experience with the quad Lutz and the programs. I was proud of myself for fighting, but I know that Rafael (Arutyunyan) is going to kick my butt when I get home so I don’t make any mistakes when we go to Worlds.”
This entertaining tune up competition for the 2015 World Championships in late March proved to be an interesting preview of what is sure to be a thrilling and highly competitive event to round out the 2014-15 season. The top men will look to continue their form and further improve in the month before Worlds in order to finish the season in the best way possible.