Weaver and Poje in heated battle for ice dance gold at ISU Four Continents

TAIPEI CITY – Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., are in second place after the short dance at the ISU Four Continents Championships in figure skating which got underway Thursday.

World champions Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., are also in second after the pairs short program despite Duhamel skating with an illness.

In pairs, Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China are the surprise leaders with 78.51 points. Duhamel and Radford are second at 71.90 and Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim of the U.S. third at 67.71.

“Meagan was ill all day today heading into the short program,” said Radford. “It prevented us from having a really great skate which is what we were hoping for. But we still did some great elements out there. It’s unfortunate our Lutz was downgraded today and we lost a lot of points there.”

Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto are fifth at 61.97 and Vanessa Grenier of Johnville, Que., and Maxime Deschamps of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., are 10th.

“It was unfortunate about the mistake but I thought we collected ourselves really well,” said Moscovitch. “We skated well and improved a lot of areas.”

In ice dancing, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. are first 72.86 followed closely by Weaver and Poje, the defending champions, at 72.48. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the U.S. are third at 69.36 and world championship silver medallists Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. stand fourth at 67.05.

“We are very pleased with our short dance today,” said Poje. “We went out there and had a strong performance. We felt we captured the audience and captured the true feeling of our dance (a waltz). We did have a couple of level three’s that we want to address for the world championships.”

“Andrew and I are really happy,” added Weaver. “We felt really comfortable and enjoyed the moment which is always our goal for every competition. Right now it’s very close for the championship. We like our position heading into the free dance.”

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto are fifth at 63.92 and Elisabeth Paradis of Loretteville, Que., and Francois Xavier-Ouellette of Laval, Que., are sixth at 60.15 out of 16 entries.

Paradis and Ouellette reached the qualifying score for the world championships and earned a ticket to Boston next month.

“We really concentrated on what we needed to do,” said Paradis. “We were pretty nervous about getting our technical scores. But we focused on skating like we normally do in training and we are super happy.”

Ouellette says being relaxed was the key to their success.

“We appreciated each moment and put together a really super performance. We are going to Boston,” he said.

Japanese skaters are 1-2 after the women’s short program. Satoko Miyahara leads at 72.48 and Kanako Murakami is second at 68.51.

Canadian champion Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., is seventh, Kaetlyn Osmond of Marystown, N.L. 11th and Véronik Mallet of Sept-Iles, Que., 15th.

‘’I wasn’t quite myself this time,’’ said Chartrand. ‘’I’m pretty disappointed. I had some issues with my combination and didn’t get my levels. All I can do is look forward to my free program.’’

Osmond, who missed all of last season with a broken leg, is pleased with her progress.

‘’I was happy with the program,’’ she said. ‘’It wasn’t perfect but I reached my objectives and it was another opportunity to get out and skate again. For me it’s a stepping stone kind of year.’’

Competition continues Friday with the free dance and the men’s short program featuring Canada’s Patrick Chan.

Full results: ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships

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