2015 Four Continents Figure Skating Championship - A Deep Men's Field
The Four Continents Figure Skating Championships starts next week, and with that comes more previews. I didn’t do them for Europeans. With that being said, first up are the men! Even without reigning Olympic and World Champ Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, the men’s field is very deep and competition for the medals could be tough. In this field, we have three Americans, three Japanese, the reigning Canadian Champion, and the reigning Olympic Bronze Medalist – among others, as well. I will be looking at the main contenders for the podium and others who might make a splash, but the competition is going to be tough if these men do what they’re capable of.
Let’s start with the men who are most likely to be on the podium.
Takahito Mura – One of three Japanese men in this field, he’s the reigning champion as well. He is prone to inconsistency, but he is the only man in this field who qualified for the Grand Prix Final. It’s his fourth straight appearance here. He is not as artistic as some of the other men but if his performance at Skate Canada was any indication, he could be skating to his second straight title here which would give him a boost for his third trip to Worlds next month. (He was given the position after the retirement of reigning World Silver medalist Tatsuki Machida.) The key for him to do well here will be landing the jumps, as he won’t have high component scores to back them if he makes mistakes.
Denis Ten – The reigning Olympic Bronze medalist, Ten has the highest personal best of any of the men here. He’s also prone to the most inconsistency. This season has been a little better for him than in seasons past, and his short program at the NHK Trophy – which landed him his first ever medal on the GP circuit, as well Kazakhstan’s first medal on the Grand Prix – was spectacular. It looked like the skate of an Olympic medalist. A good skate here could set himself up for Worlds nicely. He has decent component scores, but the key for him will be doing two clean programs – not just one.
Shoma Uno – The second of the three Japanese men here, he’s the reigning Junior Grand Prix Final champion. He also surprised me by skating two fantastic programs to win the silver medal at Japanese nationals. He was not chosen for the World team, but will instead be competing at Junior Worlds at the beginning of next month, where he’s a favorite. This is his first senior international competition. If he skates the way he did at Nationals, the podium is not out of the question. This should be a nice warm up for him going into Junior Worlds in a few weeks. He does not have a quad in the short, but he does have one in the free, though his program component scores will be a tad lower. The key for him will be to do a clean short program to keep up with the top men and put him in good position for the free.
Jason Brown – He comes into this competition as the reigning US National Champion, which he got without a quad. He has not had the season that he wanted after his performance at the Olympics, where he placed ninth. He is one of the few top men here not quad in either program. If his performance at Nationals was any indication, he is capable of great things. The key for him is to be clean. His program component scores are good, but if he makes mistakes, they will not hold him up over men with much higher technical content than him. The podium is very much within reach for him, though.
Adam Rippon – Rippon has shown signs of brilliance, but has been very inconsistent. That is the only thing stopping him from being one of the top men in the World. Last year at Skate America, it almost seemed like a turn around, but his performance at Nationals was rather disastrous. This season wasn’t great for him until Nationals. He skated what was by far the best free skate of his life – and the competition. He does have a quad – and it’s a quad lutz. Neither was clean at Nationals, but watch out. If he can make them clean – and not under rotated or downgraded – it will be a monstrously high scoring jump. Even with them not being clean, he still nearly beat Jason Brown at Nationals. The key for him will believing in himself. He said Nationals was a turnaround. Let’s see if that’s true.
Now, let’s move onto the men who could make a splash, though I don’t consider them contenders, not the five mentioned above do what they’re capable of.
Nam Nguyen – The reigning Junior World Champion, he surprised many by placing third at Skate America. Last month, he also won his first National title. He does have a quad, but his program component scores are lower than some of the other men. He also has the second lowest personal best of any of the men I’m mentioning here. However, he does have a quad in his free. A clean program here, though – and a few mistakes from some of the other men – might move him up into the top five.
Han Yan – The former two-time Chinese National Champion, this has not been a good season. He was seventh last year at both Olympics and Worlds, but so far, this season has been a mess for him. He won the silver medal at Nationals behind junior-level competitor – and reigning champion – Boyang Jin. His Grand Prix season was also a disaster after the crash with Yuzuru Hanyu at Cup of China. He’s capable of medaling here, but he will need to leave the mistakes of this season behind him if he’s to do that and set himself up good for Worlds next month, where he’s sure to be at.
Daisuke Murakami – Third of the Japanese men here, he surprised everyone by skating the free skate of his life to win the NHK Trophy over Takahito Mura and Denis Ten. The podium is not out of the question for him if he skates like that, but if his performances at Japanese Nationals where he placed seventh are any indication, that’s probably not going to happen. Either way, this is great experience for him, as he’s never received a nod to Four Continents or Worlds ever.
Joshua Farris – The reigning US Bronze medalists, Nationals looked like it may be a turning point for him. If he skates like he did there, the podium is not of the question for him. However, internationally, he has never done anything that makes me think he can medal here or even place in the top five. It will be important for him to use Nationals has a boost for here and use this as a boost for Worlds. We want the US men to keep that third spot that Jeremy Abbott and Max Aaron gained back last year.
Misha Ge – A fan favorite, he surprised me by skating a by far personal best program to his highest ever finish at any Grand Prix competition – fourth at the Rostelecom Cup. He’s a bit outclassed in this field, and despite being a joy to watch, he’s never done well internationally. However, if he skates the way he did at the Rostelecom Cup, he could definitely push for top seven or even five. He doesn’t have a quad, so the key for him will be being clean and not making any mistakes. His highest
Okay, here are my predictions:
GOLD - Takahito Mura – I see a repeat performance here. Despite not being consistent, if he puts the right things together, he should skate to his second straight title.
SILVER- Shoma Uno – Maybe this wishful thinking, but I think he has all the goods to do just this if he skates the way he did at Japanese Nationals.
BRONZE - Denis Ten – He can skate away with this title, but with his history of inconsistency, I don’t see him doing that here.
4. Jason Brown – After two solid performances at Nationals, he should be looking forward to a great performance here. As I said above, he’ll need to be completely clean in order to compete with the other men that have quads.
5. Adam Rippon – He does have a quad lutz, and if he can fully rotate that, he’ll place a lot higher than fifth.
Please answer the poll as to who you think will win! I have also included Mura’s free program from Skate Canada that I found on YouTube. Next, look forward for the other three disciplines – ladies, pairs, and dance.