Courtesy of isu.org

The 2013 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships will open in Osaka, Japan, on February 8. The ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships will be held in Japan for the second time since 2000 and return to Osaka. 83 skaters from 13 ISU members have been entered for the Championships. Following a decision of the ISU Congress in 2012, no Preliminary Rounds will be held. Instead, skaters/couples need to have obtained a minimum total technical score in Short Program and Free Skating in order to compete at the Four Continents Championships.

Overview of the top contenders

In the Men’s event, World silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) is aiming at the gold medal in his hometown of Osaka. The current Grand Prix Final Champion comes with a seasons best of 269.40 points to the event. His toughest competitor should be newly crowned Japanese Champion and World bronze medalist Yuzuru Hanyu (seasons best 264.29 points). New U.S. Champion Max Aaron, 2012 Four Continents bronze medalist Ross Miner (USA), Takahito Mura (JPN), Kevin Reynolds (CAN), Richard Dornbush (USA) and Nan Song (CHN) all want to challenge for the podium as well. 2012 World Junior Champion Han Yan (CHN) debuts at an ISU senior-level Championship.

In the Ladies competition, two-time World Champion Mao Asada (JPN) is looking to regain the title she lost last year to Ashley Wagner (USA). Asada has the highest season best score of any Lady so far with 196.87 points. The challenge should come from 2012 World bronze medalist Akiko Suzuki (JPN/seasons best 185.22 points), as well as from Canadian Champion Kaetlyn Osmond and reigning World Junior silver medalist Gracie Gold (USA), who debut at the Four Continents Championships. Others to watch include Kanako Murakami (JPN), Zijun Li (CHN), Kexin Zhang (CHN), Christina Gao (USA) and Agnes Zawadzki (USA).

The Ice Dance competition is highlighted by the ongoing duel between reigning World Champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) and World silver medalists Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA). The Americans (seasons best 183.39 points) beat the Canadians (seasons best 179.83) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in December. The battle for the bronze should be tough with Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA), Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) and Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) in the mix.

The Pairs event features 2011 Four Continents silver medalist Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN/seasons best 190.49 points), Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN/seasons best 180.63 points), U.S. Champions Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir (seasons best 174.51 points) as well as the new team of Cheng Peng/Hao Zhang (CHN/seasons best167.76 points). Zhang is a multiple World medalist as well as former Four Continents Champion with his former partner Dan Zhang.

Please note that for the seasonal best total scores only the ISU Grand Prix competitions (senior and junior) have been taken into consideration, not other international competitions or National Championships.

Prize money
The ISU awards a global prize money of US$ 250,000 at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships to skaters/couples placed 1st to 12th.