(February 18, 2003)
Canadian skaters had some strong showings in both the Men's and the Ladies' event as the 2003 ISU Four Continents Championships wrapped-up over the weekend.
Taking the gold medal in the Men's event on the strength of a superb free skate was Japan's Takeshi Honda. Honda, who trains at the Mariposa School of Skating in Barrie, Ont. with coaches Doug and Michelle Leigh, landed three quadruple jumps - a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, a quadruple Salchow and another quadruple toe loop - and added a number of triple jumps to win the event. Honda also entertained the audience with some fast-paced footwork timed to his Riverdance program.
The judges rewarded Honda for his efforts with marks ranging from 5.7 to 6.0 for both technical merit and presentation. He was given five perfect 6.0s in total - two for technical merit and three for presentation.
The silver medal went to Min Zhang, of China. Zhang completed two quadruple jumps in his program - a quadruple Salchow and a quadruple toe loop-double toe loop combination. He also added a triple Axel-triple toe loop combination, as well as a triple Lutz and a triple flip. The judges awarded Zhang with technical merit marks ranging from 5.5 to 5.9 and presentation marks from 5.3 to 5.8.
Taking home the bronze medal was Chengjiang Li, also of China. Li received marks ranging from 5.5 to 5.8 for technical merit and 5.0 to 5.9 for presentation.
The fourth and fifth placements both went to Canadians. Finishing fourth was Jeffrey Buttle, last year's Four Continents Champion, and 2003 Canadian Men's Champion, Emanuel Sandhu, finished in fifth-place.
Sandhu had a strong performance that included an impressive quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination right at the start of the program. In addition to the combination, he also landed a triple Axel-triple toe loop combination and a number of other triple jumps.
"It was definitely a good fight," said Sandhu, who moved up from eighth-place after the short program. "It was a much better program than the short."
Fedor Andreev, the bronze medallist at the 2003 BMO Financial Group Canadian Championships, finished ninth.
The Ladies event was dominated by the Japanese skaters. Taking home the gold medal was Fumie Suguri, of Japan, and her two compatriots, Shizuka Arakawa and Yukari Nakano, captured the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Jennifer Robinson, the reigning Canadian Ladies Champion, moved up from eighth-place after the short program to finish fifth. She had a strong free skate in which she completed two triple Lutzes, a triple flip and two triple Salchows.
Joannie Rochette, the 2003 Canadian Ladies silver medallist, finished in eighth-place, and Annie Bellemare, who won the bronze medal at the 2003 BMO Financial Group Canadian Championships, placed 12th.
Suguri's marks ranged from 5.4 to 5.7 for technical merit and 5.3 to 5.7 for presentation for her Swan Lake program that included a triple flip, triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, triple loop and triple Salchow.