The figure skating season continues for Bradie Tennell, Mariah Bell, Jason Brown, Vincent Zhou, and the formidable group of U.S. ice dancers at the Four Continents Championships this weekend in Anaheim, Calif.
The competition returns to the United States for the first time in seven years; Colorado Springs hosted in 2006, 2007, and 2012.
NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program from Anaheim from competition. The action begins Thursday with the ladies’ short program.
NBCSN and NBC will also have live coverage of senior competition throughout the weekend.
Four Continents includes skaters from essentially everywhere but Europe, and is the final major tune-up event prior to March’s world championships.
Let’s take a closer look at each discipline in Anaheim:
It’s entirely possible that Japan sweeps the ladies’ podium in Anaheim. Rika Kihira (the triple Axel-ing Grand Prix Final champion), Mai Mihara (gold and silver medalist the past two years at Four Continents), and Kaori Sakamoto (last year’s Four Continents champion and 2018 Olympian) will skate at Four Continents.
The American skaters include Bradie Tennell and Mariah Bell who finished with silver and bronze medals at nationals last month, respectively, plus Ting Cui, who finished fourth. Alysa Liu won nationals but is not age-eligible to compete at senior level international events, such as Four Continents or the world championships.
Japan’s Shoma Uno boasts the most impressive resume in the men’s field. The Olympic and two-time Worlds silver medalist is joined by countrymen Keiji Tanaka and Kazuki Tomono in Japan. Uno will likely have to be clean to win, however.
China’s Boyang Jin, who has struggled internationally this season but finished fourth in PyeongChang, is also in the field.
Other notable men include South Korea’s Junhwah Cha who won bronze medals at both of his Grand Prix assignments this fall — plus a bronze in the Final — and Grand Prix Final qualifier Keegan Messing from Canada.
They’ll face a strong American contingent made up of Jason Brown, Vincent Zhou, and Tomoki Hiwatashi: the second, third and fourth place finishers from the national championships in January. The three-time U.S. champion, Nathan Chen, won’t compete in Anaheim but is expected at the upcoming world championships.
The highly anticipated international season debut for Sui Wenjing and Han Cong highlights the pairs field. The PyeongChang silver medalists and 2017 world champions missed the fall Grand Prix Series as Sui recovered from a stress fracture in her foot.
Sui and Han’s teammates Peng Cheng and Jin Yang will also be in the hunt for the podium, as well as Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro.
An American team could sneak onto the podium as well. Newly-crowned national champions Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc lead the charge, alongside national silver medalists Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier and fourth-place finishers Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea.
Kayne and O’Shea won the event last year, and were joined on the podium by Cain and LeDuc who earned silver.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue have won everything they’ve entered this season: Skate America, Skate Canada, the Grand Prix Final, and the U.S. Championships. They could lead a U.S. dance podium sweep alongside their Montreal-based training mates Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who finished second and third at nationals.
Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, however, look to split up the Americans. They only competed once this season, winning the B-level Autumn Classic, and instead toured in shows throughout the fall. They won Four Continents in 2015.
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @rchlltz
Four Continents Figure Skating Championships broadcast schedule (all times Eastern):
2:45 p.m.: Pairs’ short program (GOLD STREAM LINK)
6 p.m.: Rhythm dance (GOLD STREAM LINK)
5 p.m.: Pairs’ free skate (GOLD STREAM LINK)