Ice Network

Hawayek, Baker cruise to victory at Four Continents

U.S. dance team earns near 10-point win; Uno bests Jin for men's lead
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Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker won their first senior international title in Chinese Taipei on Thursday. The U.S. pewter medalists gained 105.21 points for their "Liebestraum" free dance, and they brought home the gold with an overall mark of 174.29. -Getty Images

Japan's Shoma Uno narrowly won the short program over China's Boyang Jin while Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker wrapped up the gold medal in ice dance at the 2018 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Chinese Taipei.

Men's

Skating last out of the 30 competitors, Uno opened his program to Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with a quad flip but then reduced his combination to a quad toe-double toe before hitting a triple axel. The Japanese champion scored 100.49 points.

"My legs were a little weak, so I thought I should do a quad-double combo instead of a quad-triple combo, but once I did my quad, it wasn't so bad; I should have been more confident about it," Uno said. "I felt I was cautious in my program, and I want to be stronger in the free skate."

Jin hit a big quad lutz-triple toe loop combination right out of the gate and followed that up with a quad toe and triple axel in his martial arts-inspired routine to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He posted a new personal best of 100.17 points.

Having missed the Grand Prix Final with foot injuries, the two-time world bronze medalist was pleased with his form.

"The performance was not perfect, but after the injury, I think I achieved good scores," Jin said. "This year is an important one, and I have more motivation after the injury."

Keiji Tanaka of Japan gave a solid skate to the bluesy "Memories" by Gary Moore, landing a quad salchow, triple axel and triple flip-triple toe on his way to a personal best of 90.68 points and a third-place finish.

"It wasn't 100 percent, but my jumps were successful and it was a plus for me to able to achieve this in a big event," Tanaka said. "I want to land all my quads before the Olympics."

Grand Prix finalist Jason Brown stepped out of his triple axel, and he came in fourth with 90.68 points, while his U.S. teammate, Max Aaron, landed in sixth with a score of 84.15.

Ice Dance

Dancing to "Liebestraum" by Franz Liszt, Hawayek and Baker turned in a smooth performance, one that was elevated by interesting lifts and intricate footwork. The 2014 world junior champions earned Level 4 grading for their twizzles and lifts, while their step sequences and combination spin were rewarded with Level 3's. They score a season's-best 105.21 points in the segment and captured the title with an event total of 174.29.

"We set out to give solid performances this week, and to come and show the consistency that we've been training for, and I think we did a great job on that," Hawayek said. "Being on top of the podium is just the icing on top of the cake. It's a great honor."

Clinching the silver medal in their Four Continents debut was the Canadian team of Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus. Performing to "I Won't Dance" and "Cheek to Cheek" by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, the duo delivered five Level 4 elements, though the Montreal-based team received a two-point deduction for an illegal element after attempting a small jump in their choreographic twizzle sequence.

Despite the setback, Soucisse and Firus still managed to record a personal-best segment mark of 99.85 points, and they moved from third after the short dance to second overall with 164.96 points.

"It's special for us because it is our first international medal together and for me it is my first-ever international medal," Firus said. "We're happy with the performances, and it was a really fun experience."

Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed became the first ice dance team from outside North America to make the Four Continents podium after turning in an elegant dance to music from The Last Emperor and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Like Soucisse and Firus, the Japanese champions earned a Level 4 for five elements to achieve a personal-best free dance score of 98.59 points, and they captured the bronze medal with a total of 163.86.

"We skated well here for the free dance, but we know now that there is more emotion that we can add into this. It's not fully bloomed yet," Reed said. "This really helps for the upcoming weeks of training before going to the Olympics. We know what additional improvements we can work on, but we're really happy about our results here."

Americans Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, the 2016 world junior champions, landed fourth overall with 160.12 points, while China's Shiyue Wang and Xinyu Liu placed fifth with 158.21 points. Team USA's Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons ended the competition in sixth place with 155.30 points.