The Four Continents figure skating competition serves as a counterpart to the European Championships, bringing together athletes from the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania in a warm-up for the upcoming World Championships in March.
Mirai Nagasu and Jeremy Abbott of the U.S. both suffered disappointment at Nationals this past January, where neither delivered a strong enough free skate (after Nagasu led and Abbott stood in second coming out of the short program competitions) to represent the U.S. at Worlds in Tokyo next month.
Nagasu was swept back by Alissa Czisny, despite a solid long program that still garnered her a bronze finish; Abbott suffered a couple falls and could not stand up to the positive energy behind Ryan Bradley, coming in just off the podium in 4th place.
Of course, bronze and one step off the podium—in the great scheme of things—are not to be sneezed at, but Abbott was the defending champion (and fourth place is always rough city in medal sports) and Nagasu has serious demons to battle whenever she leads in the short.
So basically, this Four Continents competition took the place of Worlds for Nagasu and Abbott this season.
They made the most of it.
After a strong short program that landed her in fourth position, Nagasu finally hit the perfect Memoirs of a Geisha free skate that has eluded her all season, winning her the bronze behind Miki Ando and Mao Asada (World Champion) of Japan, leading the American women at Four Continents.
The aerial view of a spin element around 1:45 is a neat vantage point not generally shown. The whole program was delightful and the expression on Nagasu’s face at the end because she knows it, is priceless.
Also the announcer accidentally proclaimed that she was representing Japan before a hasty correction was made. Hello awkward.
Abbott came out of the men’s short program in second position and delivered his season’s best in the free skate (148.98, 225.71 total), likewise landing himself on the podium with a bronze medal, the leading American man.
I love that Life is Beautiful free skate. Love it.
Sandra Bezic agrees, calling it “one of the most beautiful programs I’ve ever seen.”
Like Nagasu, Abbott prevented a Japanese podium sweep, standing behind Daisuke Takahashi and newcomer Yuzuru Hanyu.
So, dear Mirai Nagasu and Jeremy Abbott: Way to strike back. Words to Bumble ❤ you.