World pairs silver medalists Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao of China seized an early lead yesterday at the Four Continents figure skating championships — their last international event before the Olympics.
The Chinese pair pulled off a solid, if restrained, performance, with side-by-side spins showing off their technique and inventiveness and a final death spiral displaying a flair for drama.
“Our performance today was good and we are both really happy with how it all went,” Zhang Dan said. “Preparations for the Olympics are going very good, and we are glad we are here for the short program to prepare for it.”
Americans Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker jumped into second place going into the free skate, and Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin were in third.
In contrast to the duo’s previous outing, McLaughlin held onto her jumps, skating cleanly with strength and fluidity. The two-time national champions — once hailed as the future of US pairs skating — finished a crushing fifth at the national championships last week after a faltering performance.
“Regardless of the situation, what happened in the past, when you get out there you just go for it, and that’s what we did,” Brubaker said.
The women’s competition began later yesterday, with Japanese superstar Mao Asada in the final group for the short program.
In the ice dancing competition, Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje led the field after the compulsories, with Huang Xintong and Zheng Xun of China in second.
Canada’s Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno were in third, trailed by US duos Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell, and Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein.
The competition continues today with the pairs’ free skate, the second round of the ice dancing competition and the men’s short program in the city of Jeonju, 240km south of Seoul.