Wed, Feb 16, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Four Continents skating event set to wow Taipei

By Paul Huang  /  Contributing Reporter with AP

Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China perform their pair skating short program at the 7th Asian Winter Games in Astana on Feb. 3.

Photo: AFP

The highly anticipated 2011 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships will commence at the Taipei Arena tomorrow afternoon with nearly 100 world-class contestants from 16 countries taking part in the four-day event that is expect to wow and will be beamed live to a number of countries around the world.

This year’s competition showcases four of the reigning world champions in ice skating’s various disciplines, headed by Mao Asada of Japan, who won the women’s gold at the 2008 and last year’s World Figure Skating Championships.

Also from Japan — Asia’s powerhouse in ice skating — is media darling Daisuke Takahashi, who took home the top honor in the men’s competition at last year’s World Figure Skating Championship in Turin, Italy, to add to his already impressive list of accomplishments.

In the ice dancing, Canadian pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are the favorites to win the gold following their triumph at last year’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver, as they look to continue their dominance in the event.

Rounding out the foursome of world champs are Chinese pair skating sensations Pang Qing and Tong Jian, who won gold at the World Championships in 2006 and last year and are looking to land their fifth Four Continents Championship to close out an illustrious career that began more than a decade ago.

“We are very excited to be here in Taipei for one of our last competitions,” Tong said at a press conference held in Taipei yesterday afternoon.

The couple is expected to retire from official competition later this year to start a family.

“[The wedding] will definitely take place,” Tong said when asked by reporters about beginning a lifelong partnership with his skating partner.

Representing Taiwan in this year’s event will be a pack of six outstanding skaters, led by Melinda Wang, who placed 23rd in the 2008 World Figure Skating Championships.

Meanwhile, in related figure skating news, China is facing new questions about the ages of some of its athletes after discrepancies were found in the birthdates of eight skaters.

According to a list of birthdates published on the Chinese Skating Association’s Web site and found by The Associated Press, the skaters violated the sport’s age limits by competing when they were either too young or too old.

The birthdates on the federation’s Web sites differ from those listed on the athletes’ International Skating Union biographies.

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