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Mone Chiba Wins Gold at Four Continents; Rinka Watanabe Claims Bronze

Chiba took the ice as the final participant in the women's free skate at the Four Continents and moved beautifully through the elements in her routine.

Mone Chiba put on a nearly flawless performance to win the Four Continents Championships in dominating fashion on Friday night, February 2 in Shanghai. 

The 18-year-old, who was second at the Japan Championships in December 2023, is rapidly establishing herself as one of the elite skaters in the world.

Chiba, who led after the short program on Thursday, took the ice as the final skater and moved beautifully through the elements in her routine to a selection of songs by Ennio Morricone. Her winning total score was a personal best of 214.98 points, well ahead of South Korea's Chaeyeon Kim, who was second with 204.68. Chiba's compatriot Rinka Watanabe made the podium in third on 202.17.

Four Continents
Gold medalist Mone Chiba (left) and bronze medalist Rinka Watanabe share a happy moment at the Four Continents Championships on February 2 in Shanghai. (KYODO)

Ava Marie Ziegler of the United States was fourth at 201.19, while Mai Mihara ended up seventh on 184.07.

Chiba, who was the bronze medalist at the Four Continents in 2023 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, landed five clean triples and earned level fours on all of her spins and step sequence. She was judged a quarter rotation short on the front end of her triple flip/double toe loop/double loop combination jump and had an edge call on her final jump (a triple lutz).

Four Continents
Mone Chiba reacts after her dynamic free skate routine. (KYODO)

After Triumph at Four Continents, Chiba Says She's Grateful for Coach's Support

"I would like to thank my coach Hamada-san [for her encouragement]," Chiba stated, referring to Mie Hamada.

She added, "I told my coach I would fully demonstrate myself, [but] I was able to deliver my program with perfection, so I am happy with my performance."

Four Continents
Mone Chiba (KYODO)

Chiba was breathing deeply before she began her free skate and admitted that she had a case of the jitters.

"I was anxious because I thought I might make a mistake, but there were no mistakes," Chiba remarked.

She then said, "I tried to focus myself solely on the competition, that is how I could get this ideal result."

Asian Cup
Rinka Watanabe (KYODO)

Watanabe Lands Triple Axel in Free Skate

Watanabe skated to "Brotsjor" and "Goliath" and began with a big triple axel and went on to hit five clean triples and record level fours on all of her spins and step sequence. The 21-year-old's triple axel helped offset a pair of under-rotations she received on a triple toe loop and a triple lutz.

"I have not been entirely happy with my results this season," Watanabe commented.

She added, "I am happy with the triple axel, but I did make some mistakes on my triple jumps."

Looking ahead, she said, "I will do my best to work on these going forward."

Four Continents
Mai Mihara performs her rendition of "The Planets" in the free skate. (KYODO)

Mihara competed to "The Planets" and was only able to muster three clean triples. The 24-year-old doubled three planned triple jumps and had edge calls on two other jumps, but sounded determined to carry on.

"I don't think I can finish here after all," Mihara said before adding, "I hope I can get my mind and body back together and move on to next season and beyond."

It's just a shoe!

Gilles, Poirier Move Out to Lead in Rhythm Dance

Canada's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier lead in ice dance after the rhythm dance with 85.49. The duo's fellow Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen are second with 82.02, while Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko of the US are third at 77.47.

Japan has three teams competing in Shanghai, with the top scorers earning a berth for the 2024 world championships in Montreal in March.

Four Continents
Ice dancers Misato Komatsubara (right) and Tim Koleto in action in the rhythm dance. (KYODO)

Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto, who competed in the Beijing Olympics, are in sixth with 71.29. Utana Yoshida and Masaya Morita stand in 10th at 62.86, while Azusa Tanaka and Shingo Nishiyama are in 11th (62.09).

The competition will continue with the pairs and men's free skates on Saturday.


Author: Jack Gallagher

The author is a veteran sports journalist and one of the world's foremost figure skating experts. Find articles and podcasts by Jack on his author page, and find him on X (formerly Twitter) @sportsjapan.


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