So what did the Four Continents Championships reveal about U.S. chances at next month's World Figure Skating Championships in Tokyo?
Precious little more than what I already knew after last month's U.S. Championships, and that wasn't good.
The results from the Taipei meet that ended Saturday only reinforced my feeling that ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White will be the lone U.S. medalists at worlds. Davis and White took Four Continents gold in a walkover after reigning world and Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada withdrew after winning the short dance because Virtue had a thigh injury.
I'll make a few more observations, now that I have had time to look at some of the Four Continents video posted by the dedicated fans on the newsgroup Figure Skating Universe.
Those fans snagged the video from Asian television networks, since there was not even live Internet coverage of the event in the United States. Shame on U.S. Figure Skating for not spending the pittance it would have cost to get Four Continents live feed rights for its own web property, icenetwork.com.
The top finishers of every event at U.S. nationals but men's singles went to Four Continents, where the opposition included many of the leading skaters from China, Japan and Canada -- but none from Europe, which has its own championships.
Women's singles had the best field, including two skaters with world titles (Miki Ando and Mao Asada of Japan), three with U.S. titles (Mirai Nagasu, Rachael Flatt, Alissa Czisny) and the reigning Canadian champion (Cynthia Phaneuf). So I'm confining my comments to that event.
Both Ando and Asada skated impressively and deserved the top two places, although Ando's utter emotionlessness in the free skate was in jarring discord with the romanticism, intensity and passion of her music, Grieg's "A Minor Piano Concerto."
Reigning world champion Asada showed she has recaptured her jumping skills after a decision to rework technique under a new coach had turned the Grand Prix portion of her season into a messy exercise. Not only that, but Asada's feathery footwork sequence in the long program perfectly captured the essence of her music, Lizst's "Dreams of Love."
Nagasu, who finished third, made it abundantly clear she is the best U.S. woman skater, her third place at nationals notwithstanding.
How Nagasu must rue the brain cramps on two no-brainer elements at the end of the free skate at nationals, a spin she botched so thoroughly it was worth zero points on the scoresheet and a double-axel jump so poorly executed it earned just 2.63.