Four Continents Championships

Pairs Event

by Alexandra Stevenson

All photos Copyright 2006 by George S. Rossano

Place Team Country SP FS

Rena Inoue & John Baldwin

USA 1 1
2 Utako Wakamatsu & Jean-Sebastien Fecteau CAN 2 2
3 Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz CAN 6 3
4 Marcy Hinzman & Aaron Parchem USA 3 4

Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash

USA 5 5
6 Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hays CAN 4 6
7 Jiaqi Li & Jiankun Xu CHN 7 7
8 Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev UZB 8 8
9 Emma Brien & Stuart Beckingham AUS 9 9


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Marcy Hinzman & Aaron Parchem

  2. Rena Inoue & John Baldwin

  3. Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hays

  4. Emma Brien & Stuart Beckingham

  5. Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev

  6. Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash

  7. Jiaqi Li & Jiankun Xu

  8. Utako Wakamatsu & Jean-Sebastien Fecteau

  9. Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz


Short Program Placements


Team Country

Rena Inoue & John Baldwin

2 Utako Wakamatsu & Jean-Sebastien Fecteau CAN
3 Marcy Hinzman & Aaron Parchem USA
4 Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hays CAN

Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash

6 Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz CAN
7 Jiaqi Li & Jiankun Xu CHN
8 Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev UZB
9 Emma Brien & Stuart Beckingham AUS

Rena Inoue & John Bladwin

(from the Free Skate)

Despite a field of only nine pairs from five countries, it was still an interesting event including a new system glitch. Due to a human error, an incorrect element was entered in the short program score for Hinzmann & Parchem. The technical specialist, Simon Briggs, called the correct element, a throw triple loop, with the base value of 5.0, but the element was incorrectly entered as a throw triple toe with a base value of 4.5. The extra half point was enough to pull them over Langlois & Cody and pull them to third going into the Free Skate. A fresh draw was made the day after for the Short Program.

1. Rena Inoue & John Baldwin built on their success in the US nationals to take the lead by 3.71 with a polished performance to Albinoniís Adagio in G Minor, although it wasnít perfect. Their first move, side by side triple toe loops gained a slight negative GoE (-0.29). Baldwin, at 32, the oldest of the pair entrants said they were still not attempting the solo triple Lutzes because his right big toe, which had been impacted on a triple flip that went wrong, had not healed preventing from picking for the takeoff on that foot. (For the Lutz he picks with the right toe, for the toe loop he picks with the left.)

They received Level 4 for their lift and their flying change foot combination spin, both of which were awarded positive GoEís (+0.07 and +0.31 respectively). The four other level moves, forward inside death spiral, double twist, circular step sequence and pair combination spin were level 3. These moves all received base level or higher except for the twist which was given a very slight negative -0.04. The throw triple loop was awarded +0.70. Baldwin said the value of their content for both routines put them in the running for a medal in Turin.

"Iím no longer talking about getting into the top ten," he said. "With the score we got at nationals, is a bronze medal possible? No question about it. If we skate a clean program there, thereís maybe a few other teams in the entire world that can get a better technical score. Thereís going to be a lot of pressure but I think between the two of us we have enough experience to handle it."

He said since they won back the national title they first won in 2004, they had been inundated with requests for interviews. They were also doing a Sports Illustrated photo shoot.

Inoue said, "Today I thought we skated really well. I mainly focused on trying to not skate small, tight." They began skating six years ago. Inoue said it was only after a couple of years that they began to look like a pair and not like two singles skaters doing identical moves. Baldwin said, "I thought pairs would be easier than singles but I soon found out that wasnít the case."

It was at the world juniors in Colorado Springs that their paths first crossed, with Rena skating pairs and Baldwin singles. "Recently, I replayed a tape of that event and right at the end they showed Rena doing a spin." Later Baldwin lived and trained at the Broadmoor with Carlo Fassi. "I looked out of my hotel room this morning and saw the house where we used to live."

Baldwin, who has competed at every nationals since 1986, was burned out as a singles skater, working as a day trader and about to leave the sport when his father, who was also a nationals competitor, decided to get him teamed up with Inoue who had competed in both the 1992 and 1994 Olympics, once in both pairs and the other time in singles. "It was basically gambling. You can imagine how distracting that was. I was thinking about how the market was doing when I was skating Ė not very conducive to concentrating."

It was Inoue doing a triple Axel in practice that gave them the idea of trying the throw triple Axel. They became the first to accomplish this move in Nationals and hope to become the first to execute it in an international event in the free in Colorado.

Asked if they would skip the Olympic Opening ceremony, which is just a day before the short program, Baldwin said he had thought about it. "I didnít like the idea of standing for four hours but Rena said, "You have to go. Thatís an experience youíll never have again and like she said - if we missed it weíd regret it so Iíll follow her advice. Sheís going to walk me through and show me the ropes."

Asked how this Olympics compares to her other two, Inoue, 29, said, "The country Iím competing for is totally different. Thatís kind of obvious. Itís been 12 years since the last time I went and a lot has changed, not just in skating, but in my life. Today I thought we skated really well. I mainly focused on things we both know like we have to deal with the altitude and everything. I just focused on trying to not skate small, tight, slow, trying to save energy toward the end. I just focused on letting it all out. We can rest later."

2. Utako WAKAMASU & Jean-Sebastien FECTEAU, who is 30, basically had the same national situation but she chose a different path. "It was a very hard decision. To become a Canadian, I would have to give up my Japanese citizenship and I couldnít do that, not even for the chance to become an Olympian." They, too, had met in Colorado Springs when she was competing in Skate America in singles and his coach approached her to see if she was interested in trying pairs.

The pair was second in Canadian nationals last year and eighth in the world but were only third this year. Of their short program in Colorado Springs, the 24 year old Wakamasu said, "It wasnít perfect but we did everything. I fought for the landing of the triple toe loop. We just had a little mistake on the throw triple Salchow. I touched down a little." She jackknifed forward on the landing. Their death spiral was held for enough rotations to give them a Level 4 and their lift had an interesting position with her in a split position in which she he face touches her ankle. They used music from The Swan from Carnival of the Animals. They wore white with a tie-dyed fringe of blue. They were 3.71 marks behind Inoue & Baldwin.

3. Marcy HINZMANN & Aaron PARCHEM, skating to The Mission soundtrack, she in pink, her in maroon, were 2.76 behind Wakamasu & Fecteau. After they placed second and earned a place on the Olympic team in St. Louis, the 28 year old Parchem said, "When we got done with nationals it felt like a weight had been lifted off us and we felt we could finally go out there and perform as well as we can. I never had to skate a schedule like the one weíre going to skate so pretty much itís an adventure from here on out. I think weíre peaking at the right time, but Iím really going out there and trying to stay competitive and hoping for the best.

"The Olympics Ė I just feel so thrilled to be a part of something so special. Weíre not going there to get a medal. Weíre just going there to skate our best and represent the U.S. as well as we can and with that said we know we can sit back and enjoy our time there, especially after weíre done."

They, too, will go to the Opening Ceremonies. "We worked for this and weíre going to have the whole experience," Parchem added. "This is a once in a lifetime deal for us. Our coach, Johnny Johns, won national championships (with Melissa Militano, 1975 & 1975) but heís never been to the Olympics until now. So itís a big deal for all of us and we just want to take in as much as we can while weíre there."

They lie only a very marginal 0.06 above Langlois & Hay. Hinzmann, 23, said of her problem on the change foot combination spin, "The warm up was a little shaky. This is our third year but we donít have much experience." They lost training time prior to this season because of her knee surgery. "In the camel spin, I stepped a little more forward and the synchronization was kind of an issue. The new system really has up-ed the skating. You have to hold more than a turn in the death spiral. Now you have to do three revolutions to get a high level. If you had said that before, I would have said, ĎThatís impossible!í"

4. Anabelle LANGLOIS & Cody HAY only began skating this season. Parchem. Langlois, 24, was fifth in the world in 2003 with Patrice Archetto, while Hay, 22, was only a junior. They were fourth in the recent Canadian nationals. This was only their fourth competition.

She said, "We stated the program and the program wasnít one of those that is so smooth and you just say it happens by itself. We had to fight for everything but we did everything." Hay said, "The last spin Ė I just missed her. I didnít have my glasses on today! The performance itself felt pretty good. It felt hard to do the whole thing. I didnít feel exactly over my feet. Everything wasnít perfect, but overall it was good. We had pretty good practices and felt pretty good on the warmup. We were just kind of fighting against each other." Their music was The Messiah is Coming.

5. Katie ORSCHER, 21, & Garrett LUCASH, 27, revealed that when they lost their national title in St. Louis he had incurred a groin injury in the short. "I went back to the hotel (after the short) and in the hotel it really began to hurt. Itís been getting progressively worse since then. Iíve altered my jump take offs since then. It was a good save. I get a sharp pain when I reach back (for the take-off for the triple toe loop which he doubled.). I donít feel in the comfort zone with it. The rest of the program was definitely a lot slower than we are capable of doing it. And it was cautious." They did not think about withdrawing from this event he said because, said Lucash, "We were invited. Itís our duty as medalists at Nationals to come to this event. I think itís important to represent our country here." They skated to Egyptian Disco by DJ Disse, wearing lovely bright orange and black outfits with an original markings. "We send out music to our designer to decide on what we will wear," said Orscher.

6. Elizabeth PUTNAM, 21, & Sean WIRTZ, 25, skating to an enjoyable, lively SP to Sing Sing Sing in yellow outfits with red polka dots, she with a skirt over boxer shorts, got a deduction of 1.0 for her fall on the straight line step sequence. They have been going through a difficult time. In 2003 and 2004 they were third in Canada. But in 2005 they were fourth and this time they finished fifth. Here they lie only 0.66 behind Orscher & Lucash but 2.15 ahead of Li & Xu.

7. Jiaqi LI, 15, & Jiankun XU, 19, who are from Changchun but train in Beijing with Sha Yanwei, were fifth in their nationals. This is their first international. They did nice triple toe loops but got a -1.40 for the touch down on their throw triple loop. They received two Level 4ís Ė for their forward inside death spiral and for their lift which used a swing through the legs ascent. Their double twist was high.

8. Marina Aganina, 20, & Artem Knyazev, 25, from Tashkent, who will represent their country, Uzbekistanm in the Olympics, were 1.55 behind the Chinese and a massive 10.47 ahead of the Australians. They performed to Musettaís solo and duet from the Puccini Opera, La Boheme. The pair has competed in worlds since 2002 with a best place finish last year of 14th.

9. Emma Brien, 20, & Stuart Beckingham, 24, from Sydney, are the Australian champions. They performed to Mr. Pin Stripe Suit by Scotty Morris. In their only international, the secondary Olympic qualifying competition, they finished 12th.


Free Skating

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev

  2. Jiaqi Li & Jiankun Xu

  3. Emma Brien & Stuart Beckingham

  4. Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hays

  5. Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash

  6. Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz

  7. Marcy Hinzman & Aaron Parchem

  8. Utako Wakamatsu & Jean-Sebastien Fecteau

  9. Rena Inoue & John Baldwin


Free Skating Placements
Place Team Country

Rena Inoue & John Baldwin

2 Utako Wakamatsu & Jean-Sebastien Fecteau CAN
3 Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz CAN
4 Marcy Hinzman & Aaron Parchem USA

Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash

6 Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hays CAN
7 Jiaqi Li & Jiankun Xu CHN
8 Marina Aganina & Artem Knyazev UZB
9 Emma Brien & Stuart Beckingham AUS


Utako Wakamatsu & Jean-Sebastien Fecteau


Elizabeth Putnam & Sean Wirtz

1 (1,1) For all three medalists, it was their first medal in an event of this stature. Inoue & Baldwin failed to repeat their national feat of landing a throw triple Axel. She slammed down flat on the ice. They will, of course, keeping trying. What went wrong? Inoue explained, "I thought everything was good, but I think I started leaning forward. Next time when Iíll try to do it, Iíll try to think about keeping it back and straight." Baldwin added, "To tell you the truth it had something to with my throw as well. I didnít follow through with it enough. She tried as hard as she could to land, but unfortunately, she tried so hard she leaned forward."

"It definitely wasnít our best," said Inoue, but it was actually their ISU personal best score in an international. "It was definitely a quick returning from Nationals to here. Weíre glad we came here. We even thought of not doing this event. But we got a lot of stuff out of this competition. We had some improvement in the short program. It was our best SP of the season. In the long definitely Nationals was a lot better, but weíre just going to work harder when we get home. Obviously we could be a lot better but it wasnít that bad." On her fall, on the triple Axel she said, "I got up and tried to put it behind me."

They started the routine, choreographed to music by Shostakovich, with their planned triple toes but he doubled it and she put a hand on the ice. Then came their double twist which was awarded Level 3, followed by a sequence of two double Axels. On the following throw triple loop she put two hands on the ice. Then came a Level 2 forward inside death spiral, a Level 4 Group 3 lift, and a pair combination spin Level 3. After the failed throw triple Axel attempt, there was a Level 4 Group 5 lift, a Level 4 back outside death spiral a Level 3 straightly line step sequence, a flying combination Level 4 spin, a spiral sequence that got Level 3 and a Level 4 Group 5 lift.

It was an impressive array of artillery and they finished with 11.96 points ahead of the second placed Wakamatsu and Parchem.

2 (2,2) Wakamatsu & Fecteau presented a routine to La Revancha by the Gotan Project and Quartango by Bond. About this showing, Wakamatsu said, "It was not easy because of the altitude. Actually we did pretty good, but my partner twisted his thumb when we were doing our first lift. For him it was harder to continue the program. We had some problems with the side-by-side jumps but the rest was pretty good.

3 (6,3) Putnam & Wirtz used Tchaikovskyís Piano Concerto No. 1 to finish 7.37 behind their teammates and win the bronze medals. They train with Peter Tchernyshev in Hackensack, New Jersey, and the really cute yellow with red polka dot outfits they used for the SP were Peter and his partnerís (Naomi Lang) which they never got to wear because she stopped eligible competition.

Putnam explained, "We always expect a lot from ourselves so coming off a disappointing (Canadian) nationals, we just felt that this competition was definitely for us. It wasnít for placement or anything , we just had a personal goal to come out and just enjoy it and go for everything and not hold back. Weíre happy with both our short and long programs here. (About the fall on footwork in the short," she said, "We had done all the hard stuff. It was just something unexpected you canít practice. We just picked up as best we could after that and we really tried to enjoy ourselves. When something like this happens you have to laugh at it."

Wirz said, "Itís our last competition of the season. We wanted to end it on a good note. Itís been a good year for us. Out nationals was kind of disappointing, but all around weíre happy with our year and itís a good way to end it."

4 (3,4) Hinzmann & Parchem, who skated to Esperanza, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, finished fourth only 0.76 behind Putnam & Wirz. Hinzmann explained, "It felt really good. Aaron and I were not sure how the altitude was going to be here. Weíve never actually skating at altitude, but it was alright. It just feels a little dry at the end when youíre trying to breathe, but other than that it felt really good. We always try to help each other out. He knew I was a little nervous about the altitude and I told him I would do my best to have a nice strong opening and I think that he would kind of help me with that ending part. We always try to have a small goal for each performance and it usually has nothing to do with landing anything. More like, ĎLetís relate to the audience more this time,í or, ĎLetís have more flow from one element to the next as possible,í and I think we achieved that. There was a small break at the end with the lift coming down and we kind of got a little sloopy oing into our spirals but we felt it really flowed well."

Parchem said of the problem with the lift , "I didnít have the patience. I made Marcy a promise. I said, ĎYou get through your stuff at the begnning and Iíll drag you through the end, so Iím kicking myself for not living up to my part of the deal. Marcy did a great job tonight."

5 (5, 5) Orscher & Lucash interpreted Saint Saensí Samson & Delilah to stay fifth 3.00 behind Hinzmann & Parchem. He fell on the triple toe and she put two hands down on the throw triple Salchow. She said this was the end of the season for them. "I think weíll take about a week off." He said he would go home and rest his groin. "Weíre going to take long enough off to get healed. Itís probably not going to be too long because I want to get back and do other things - Things that we havenít been able to do. We had a whole lot of goals last year that we never got to because of her injury. Instead of trying out new things we were sort of catching up on where we were because of it. Obviously, we wish we were still going (to the Olympics) but weíre turning in a positive out of a negative here, making the best of it. We have more time to experiment with new elements. Weíre really looking forward to doing that."

He said he doesnít feel the groin injury while he skates because of the adrenalin. "My toe loop has been awesome this year and when I got here it started going down and I think mentally I really had it at the back of my mind think, ĎOK, youíre changing your takeoff. Donít let it happen.í In practice today I took time took time to do a couple of doubles to find the rhythm again and it started to feel better, but I guess it just wasnít enough. But I really donít like making excuses for anything. I should have been stronger mentally."

6 (4, 6) Langlois & Hay skated to an Adagio from Concerto Aranjuez. He explained, "We were not more nervous. It felt pretty good in the warm up. It was just one of those skates where a few things donít click. Everything has been working will all week. It was one of those days. We found out right before our practice this morning that the places had changed. It didnít affect us. Obviously, we were preparing ourselves to come later but it didnít throw us off or anything like that. It was just an unfortunately circumstance. (Because there had to be a new draw because of the change in third and fourth place.)

7. Li & Xu skated to the soundtrack from a Chinese movie, Xu Jian Kun. They finished 4.35 behind Langlois & Hay.

8 (8, 8) Aganina & Knyazev, skating in white showy outfits, to the soundtrack of the movie Del Arte, were 15.27 behind the Chinese.

9. (9, 9) Brien & Stuart pupils of Stephan Carr and Daniel McGrath skated to the soundtrack of The Mask of Zorro by Horner. In a sport where hairstyles are discussed, Stuart stands out as a skinhead. His bald head makes quite an impression. They were 22.09 behind the Uzbeks.

2006 Four Continents Pairs Medalists


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