Shibutanis win dance event at Four Continents

Associated Press
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, who train at The Arctic Pond in Canton, perform during the Ice Dance Free Dance program Friday at the Taiwan ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Taipei, Taiwan. The siblings won the ice dance championship.

Taipei, Taiwan — Continuing a trend of strong American ice dance finishes, Maia and Alex Shibutani of the United States won the Four Continents championship Friday.

The siblings finished first in the free dance to win the overall event with 181.62 points. The Shibutanis train at The Arctic Circle in Canton.

They were followed by countrymen Madison Chock and Evan Bates, with 174.64 points. Canada’s Caitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were third with 173.85, followed by yet another U.S. tandem, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the Sochi Olympics gold.

“It is a really gratifying feeling,” Alex Shibutani said. “We’ve been working so hard over the past four seasons in particular, but this season we’ve been really focused on making sure we make the most of every opportunity.”

The Shibutanis finished ninth at the 2014 Olympics. They won their first U.S. title in January.

“We were very excited to win the national title for the first time and that has a level of confidence that comes with it that we took into this week,” Alex Shibutani added. “I think that our skating has reached another level and we’re excited about the possibilities. We’re always looking to improve and this is a great start.”

Jin Boyang of China led the men’s short program, while three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada was fifth.

Jin received 98.45 points for a flawless short program that included a quad lutz and a quad toe loop. Shoma Uno of Japan was second with 92.99 points, while Han Yan of China was third with 89.57.

Chan hit his opening quad toe loop, but touched the ice on his landing. His planned triple toe loop was only a double and he finished with 86.22 points.

“I haven’t felt comfortable in training all week,” Chan said. “Considering that, I’m really happy with the skate, staying on feet, playing it smart and not making major mistakes.”

Chan said he taking a patient approach to his comeback.

“This season I want to take my time, be methodical. So far every competition it has been getting better,” he said.

Skate America champion Max Aaron also struggled with his short program and finished in eighth place with 69.48 points.

Defending champion Denis Ten of Kazakhstan withdrew because of a knee injury.

The Four Continents championships are sanctioned by the International Skating Union and feature skaters from the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania.