Four Continents Championships

Pairs Event

All photos Copyright 2004 by George S. Rossano

Place Team Country SP FS
1 Qing Pang & Jian Tong CHN 1 1
2 Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang CHN 2 2
3 Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin CAN 3 3
4 Rena Inoue & John Baldwin USA 4 4

 Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto

CAN 5 5
6 Yang Ding & Zhongfei Ren CHN 6 6
7 Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash USA 7 7
8 Tiffany Scott & Philip Dulebohn USA 8 8
9 Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz CAN 9 9
10 Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev UZB 10 10


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Tiffany Scott & Philip Dulebohn

  2. Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash

  3. Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto

  4. Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang

  5. Qing Pang & Jian Tong

  6. Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev

  7. Yang Ding & Zhongfei Ren

  8. Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz

  9. Rena Inoue & John Baldwin

  10. Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin


Short Program Placements


Team Country
1 Qing Pang & Jian Tong CHN
2 Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang CHN
3 Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin CAN
4 Rena Inoue & John Baldwin USA

 Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto

6 Yang Ding & Zhongfei Ren CHN
7 Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash USA
8 Tiffany Scott & Philip Dulebohn USA
9 Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz CAN
10 Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev UZB

Pang & Tong

Zhang & Zhang

It was no surprise that two Chinese pairs are first and second. Both Qing Pang & Jian Tong and Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang do superb lateral twists that absolutely wow the audiences and judges alike.

Pang & Tong are currently in the lead despite her under-rotating and stepping out of her solo triple toe loop. "It was a little accident," said Pang, who performed in a lacy white outfit. "I didn’t quite have the rhythm when going into the jump."

With the amazingly brilliant Chinese world champions Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao, who won this event last year, absent, and the two other world medalists being Russian and therefore not eligible for this event, Pang & Tong are the ranking pair.  They finished fourth in the worlds in Washington D.C. after being fifth the year before. Pang & Tong were second last year when Four Contintinents was in their home country, Beijing.

Pang & Tong drew to skate fifth of the ten pairs from four countries. That number indicates the current poverty in pair skating since 16 countries are eligible for this event.  Eleven Countries are represented here but only Canada, China, USA and Uzbekistan have sent pairs.

Here, they skated a beautifully soft routine to Illumination by Rolf Lovland. Their throw triple loop was very good and the rest of their moves solid. Their marks ranged from one 5.2 up to two 5.7s for the first set and for the second set comprised four 5.6s, four 5.7s and six 5.8s

Tong said, about the surge of screams and incredibly loud cheers of the only one thousand strong crowd following their twist, "Every time we do an element well, we’re waiting and hoping for the reaction of the crowd. There is a lot of pressure when we compete, but we try to overcome these difficulties.

They recently regained the national title they held in 2000, dethroning Zhang & Zhang.

Zhang & Zhang, who have won bronze in this event for the last two years, were sixth in the 2003 worlds (and ninth the year before). They skated immediately before Pang & Tong Their music, All Alone by Joe Satriani, is a depressing blues, and that may have accounted partially for their second place not being closer to Pang & Tong.

Their first set of marks, for technical merit, ranged from one 5.3 up to four 5.7s. These consisted of nine marks 0.1 higher than Pang & Tong with the rest of panel tied them. However, for the second set, which is for presentation, the 14 judges unanimously put them below Pang & Tong, four by 0.1, nine by 0.2 and one by 0.3.

Hao Zhang (the man) said, "The performance today was a normal level for us and we have been skating well in practice and have been consistent so we were confident going in to the competition today and are happy with how we skated. The technical elements were slightly cleaner today compared to any of the other competitions this season so it felt better."

The new Canadian champions, Valerie Marcoux and Craig Buntin, who skated last, placed third. Their required  lift had an interesting descent in which Marcoux came down to shoulder height in a horizontal position before flipping to the ice, and the rest of the moves were competent, although he does not get down very low in the sit position in their flying change foot combination spin.

Buntin was delighted with their result. "Three weeks ago, it was, ‘Craig who?" ‘Valerie who?’". Even their outfits looked different – more "dance-y".  In their program interpreted the Duke Ellington music Caravan.

When their coach, Richard Gautier, who teamed Jamie Salé & David Pelletier, was asked what the duo had to do to get lateral twists like the Chinese, he explained, "We have tried lateral twists (which look more spectacular because the whole body is overhead) but the catch is very difficult. We abandoned it because we were getting deductions for the catch."

A couple of weeks after they teamed up, they won the 2002 Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, and last year they finished fourth in Canadians. She had previously been fourth twice with her former partner, Bruno Marcotte. Buntin had been Canadian Junior champion in 2000, and eighth in world juniors, with his former partner, Chantal Poirier.

Marcoux said, "It’s the best short program we’ve done all year, so it’s very exciting for us. It’s what we wanted to do, and it worked for us tonight. It was a lot of fun. We didn’t have a lot of time to think, ‘Oh! We’re Canadian champions. It was more – go home and train."

Buntin said, "Our goal this week is just to be a little bit better than at Canadians. I think that’s what we did here. The triple toe was better. The footwork lately was a little bit better and Richard has been telling me to smile. We haven’t had time to feel the pressure. We only had time to wash our clothes and come here."

U.S. Champions, Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, Jr., who skated immediately prior to Marcoux & Buntin, placed fourth. They started well with the solo triple toe loops but then she had a bad fall on the throw loop. She was straight in the air, unlike the problem with this move in Atlanta at Nationals, but her weight was on the toe and she fell forward flat on the ice.

While waiting for their marks, Inoue looked devastated. She said later, "Nothing really went wrong. It was a perfect throw and at the end it just fell apart suddenly. I leant a bit too far forwards and lost it."

They did well not to let this affect them, and brought off the rest of their elements with style and pep, interpreting their music Murder at the Cotton Club. Their required lift had a swoop in which her head came extremely close to the ice. When their coach, Jill Watson, did this move with partner Peter Oppegard while winning an Olympic bronze in 1988, the swing looked dangerous but her head did not come so near the ice because their height difference was far greater.

Baldwin said, "Coming in as National Champions gave us more confidence. The marks were fantastic considering the missed element and we are thrilled." They include an interesting variation into the back outside death spiral in which his leg goes over their arms.

Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto, who have been runners-up for the Canadian title for the past two years, placed fifth. They began with a nice throw triple Salchow, and then accomplished the double twist but she fell on their solo triple toe loops and they lost synchronization on their flying change foot combination spin. Their required lift had a twist descent. She had a small stumble in their straight line step sequence.

Langlois said, "It didn’t feel bad at all. In the warm-up I did a little mistake on my triple toe. I went too swing-y on my three turn. It’s a habit of mine, even in practice, to over correct. I knew what I had to change, but I overdid it. So when I went into the program, I did it too much in a straight line. I have to work on that.

"Other than that, the program felt good. We love to perform it. It’s so fun to do even if there are a couple of mistakes. We really just try to go out there and make the crowd enjoy it." The music was "Leyenda" performed by Vanessa Mae.

She said they had to put the fall behind them. "You have to do it. You can’t keep doing the program with a sad face. You have to carry on and make sure the rest is even better."

Archetto was less upbeat. He said, "The program suffered because of the mistakes. We weren’t able to give what we usually do and, I think, the marks suffered from that, too. They were just little mistakes. It never happens and so it’s just disappointing."

The third Chinese pair, Yang Ding & Zhongfei Ren, who won the 2003 Junior Grand Prix final, also had a great lateral twist. However, they invited unfavorable comparisons by using the music so identified with the grace of the legendary Ludmila & Oleg Protopopov, Meditation from the opera Thais by Jules Massenet.

Scott & Dulebohn and Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash, from the U.S., drew to skate first and second and ended up in eighth and seventh place respectively.

Former U.S. Champions, Scott & Dulebohn, who were third in this event in 2000 when it was in Osaka in Japan, gave a reasonable performance to the Farandole by Bizet.

She said, "The twist felt good and the throw felt good. The crowd were good." He added, "The lift felt okay." They may be feeling a little down because, having placed third in Nationals, they are not going to Worlds in which they have competed for the last four years (placing 9th,11th,7th and 9th successively)

Lucash two footed his solo triple toe loop but the rest of the performance to "Still Got the Blues," by G. Moore was good. He said, "The coach (Vadim Naumov, who won the 1994 world pair championship with Evgenia Shiskova) seems happy so I guess we skated ok today. Nationals (where they finished second for the second straight year), was only our third competition this season and there was only a week between them and here, so we just tried to stay at the same level, stay healthy and focused."

His partner said, "To us this is just another competition but it is a good warm up for Worlds and gives us another chance to compete which is nice. We have some time now before Worlds to relax and start again." They finished 16th in their only World Championship appearance, which was last year.

Canada’s Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz are currently ninth. Putnam said, "The skate felt great but there were a few little glitches. We are more prepared this year. We have had a strong year on the Grand Prix Circuit." They were sixth at Skate America and fifth in Skate Canada this season.  They teamed together in 2002 and were ninth in this event last year. Wirtz is Paul and Kris’s nephew.


Free Skating

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Tiffany Scott & Philip Dulebohn

  2. Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz

  3. Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev

  4. Yang Ding & Zhongfei Ren

  5. Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto

  6. Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash

  7. Qing Pang & Jian Tong

  8. Rena Inoue & John Baldwin

  9. Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin

  10. Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang


Free Skating Placements
Place Team Country
1 Qing Pang & Jian Tong CHN
2 Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang CHN
3 Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin CAN
4 Rena Inoue & John Baldwin USA

 Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto

6 Yang Ding & Zhongfei Ren CHN
7 Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash USA
8 Tiffany Scott & Philip Dulebohn USA
9 Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz CAN
10 Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev UZB

Pang & Tong

Zhang & Zhang

Marcoux & Buntin

It might have been an ice dance contest from the rigidity of the standings since there was no change in the placings from those earned in the short program.

First on of the top four after the ice resurface, Pang & Tong gave a superb showing with only one noticeable error (on the landing of the triple twist) to their music Variations on a Theme by Paganini. Their marks ranged from two 5.5s up to one 5.8 for the first set, and one 5.5 to up one 5.9 for the second set.

They began with a triple toe loop to double Axel sequence, followed by their famed immensely high lateral triple twist and a good throw triple Salchow. An equally smooth throw triple loop followed later, as did second solo double Axels. Their back outside death spiral had a variation entry in which she did a three jump. A second death spiral, forward inside, was performed towards the end. They also had a pleasing move with her in an Ina Bauer and him in an outside spread.

Pang was unmoved by their performance. "That went like a normal practice for us. We are satisfied. We’re happy with our elements. There was a small mistake on one of the landings, but it’s okay."

He collided with Hao Zhang in practice in the morning and hurt his leg, but the injury seemed to make no difference to his performance. He said, "I feel pain, but we were the first ones to skate in our group and I feel if there’s a will, there’s a way, so I overcame the pain to skate well."

Zhang & Zhang brought the pairs event to a sensational finish. Three of the judges (and this observer) thought them better than their teammates. Spurred on by their stirring Czardas violin music, they began with their incredible lateral triple twist lift. Their double Axel to triple toe loop sequence was flawless and their throw triple loop sensational. Their solo triple Salchows and throw triple Salchow were good. The backward outside death spiral okay. Their lifts were solid. They are obviously working on their spins and finished with a pair spin with a combination of interesting positions.

The marks ranged from three 5.6s up to a 5.9 for the first set, and one 5.3 up to three 5.8s for the second set.

Hao Zhang said, "I think this was a strong performance. There were just a few little glitches in the second part, for example the exit of a lift. We skated last in the group and the ice wasn’t so good anymore. I caught a rut in the ice. In general, it doesn’t matter to me when we skate last. When we participated for the first time at Four Continents in Korea in 2002, we also skated last and took the bronze medal. Skating last is not a problem for us.

Marcoux & Buntin, using the music Rockin’ Gypsies and Cancio Triste, looked great until half way through their routine. They accomplished a great triple twist and equally great throw triple loop followed by solo triple toe loops sequenced into double toe loops. Their back inside and forward inside death spirals were well done. However he fell on their second solo triple toe loops. In their second to last move, when they were striving for speed in the straight line step sequence, exhausted from their four and a half minutes, she fell.

Their marks ranged from two 5.3s up to five 5.6s, and three 5.5s up to one 5.8. She said, "We really had nothing to lose in this competition. We just wanted to show that we love to skate. We had some little mistakes. We’re happy and excited to be going to Worlds."

He joked, "Well, the good news is – we’ll continue skating. We’re taking small steps all season. There were some slips during tonight’s performance, but we’re definitely on the up and up."

Inoue & Baldwin had problems. They were okay initially executing walleys into solo triple toe loops and a triple twist to their "Wonders of the New World" and "Pearl Harbor" music. But they she singled their solo double Axels that were sequenced into triple toe loops, and had a bad fall on the throw triple Salchow in which she slammed onto her side. Later they did a throw triple loop and their lifts including one with a "swoop" move were good. Their last move, a forward inside death spiral had an interesting exit in which he "walks" away with her still horizontal to the ice.

Their marks comprised one 5.0 up to two 5.5s, and a 5.1 up to four 5.6s.

Baldwin said, "We are more and more comfortable. It was a great big step up after the mistakes at Nationals. The throw triple Salchow got big and was hard to hold. I don’t know many partners who get up and carry on like Rena did. We kept the program identical since Nationals. We may add the side by side triple Lutz (never done in competition World competition) at Worlds."

Skating second of the three pairs in the middle warm-up group to music from the movie, "Lawrence of Arabia", Langlois & Archetto set the audience on fire with their first move, the throw triple Salchow, and the following double Axel and triple twist. However, on the solo triple toes he put two hands on the ice and had trouble balancing himself eventually doing only a single instead of the planned sequenced double toe.

They had some interesting, well done variations including individual and pair spread eagles and a good throw triple toe loop but lost synchronization on their change foot combination spin. After their backward inside death spiral in which, in the middle, they do a unique change of position, he hitched up his pants. At the end performed a gorgeous forward inside death spiral with a series of traveling entrance moves.

They gained marks from one 5.0 up to two 5.4s, and from one 5.2 up to three 5.6s. Langlois said, "With this performance I was out of focus. I just want to get to bed and out of here. It’s hard for me and Pat. When we’re very tired, he takes a step back and I take one forward. Because I was so tired tonight, I tried to take a step back and stay focused. The elements were good. We were so focused on the risky ones, and not so much on the easier moves. But I think we salvaged it pretty well"

Her partner was less talkative. "We’re really tired. We only had four days to train between competitions since Canadian Nationals."

Skating to the Warsaw Concerto first in the second warm-up, Ding & Ren wowed the audience with their opening move, a throw quad, but the landing was two footed. They did competent solo triple toes to double toes, and their lateral triple twists elicited, as usual, greeted with huge cheers. However, she does not get her head very low in their back outside death spiral and she came down strangely from one of their lifts.

Their marks went from a 5.1 up to seven 5.4s, and three 4.9s up to a 5.3

Skating to Spartacus Orscher & Lucash began extremely well with their triple twist and solo triple toe loops sequenced immediately into double flips, followed by a throw triple flip and double Axels.

However the synchronization of their flying camels to sit spins deteriorated at the end and later, after landing the throw triple Salchow she fell. Their back outside death spiral was particularly well done.

Their marks went from two 4.6s up to a 5.4, and one 4.7 up to a 5.4. Orcher said, "Well, there is always room for improvement. It was a really good, solid performance. We haven’t performed our program to its best yet. We’re saving that for Worlds."

Asked about her fall, she smiled and said, "But I got up again, very quickly." Her partner added, "Now we’re feeling good about going into Worlds. We’re going to take a couple of days break, and then we’ll work our butts off for Worlds. She’s never missed the throw before, so we both were surprised, and we don’t know what happened."

Scott & Dulebohn found themselves in a very unusual position for them – skating the long program first, the unfortunately result of placing eighth of the ten pairs in the short. Looking very elegant, they gave a smooth showing of their Les Miserables routine with just two slight moments when her balance could have been better. In their triple toe loops to double toes, she had to fight, successfully, to keep from putting her hand on the ice on the first jump, and she had a lean on their throw triple Salchow.

Scott said, "It felt good. We went into the performance with nothing to lose. I fought for all the elements and the throw triple loop went very well."

Dulebohn said, "Definitely better than Nationals, but I was more fatigued tonight. We were more into it."

Because they skated first, when the judges are still given the highest and lowest and average marks and can still change their award to fit in with the others, Scott & Dulebohn received marks that were very close. There was one 4.9 and thirteen 5.0s for the first set and four 5.0s and ten 5.1s.

Surprisingly, three of the nine judges the computer picked at random out of the fourteen judges, preferred Putnam & Wirtz to the Americans. The Canadians, who were one of two pairs to skate to Variations on a Theme by Paganini had an off day – so much so that a Canadian observer sitting next to me had some words to say about them that could not be printed.

They began with a triple twist but he doubled his triple Salchow which they sequenced with double Axels. They did a lovely throw triple loop but had a spiral step sequence in which he had to catch her to prevent her from falling. Then, in another bizarre moment, he tripped and nearly fell when they were merely skating forward. On one of their last moves, she stepped out of their throw triple Salchow.

They were, however, far above the last places Uzbekhistanis, Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev, who have been runners-up for their national title for the past three years and 20th in the last two worlds.

Putnam & Wirtz’s marks were three 4.7s up to one 5.2, and one 4.7 up to two 5.3s while Aganina & Knyazev’s ranged from three 3.5s to two 4.3s and one 3.6 to three 4.3s.

2004 Four Continents Pairs Medalists


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