Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker compete in their free dance at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 7, 2018 in San Jose, Calif.
Former world junior champions Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker led a strong contingent of American ice dancers with a gold medal and Team USA’s first medal of the Four Continents Championships on Thursday in Taipei City.
Their win continues a string of success for American ice dancers at Four Continents. It is the 11th gold medal by a U.S. dance team at 20 Four Continents events, and Hawayek and Baker are the sixth U.S. dance team to take the title.
Skating to “Liebestraum,” composed and edited by Maxime Rodriguez, Hawayek, 21, from Buffalo, New York, and Baker, 24, from Edmunds, Washington, scored a personal best 105.21 in the free dance for a total of 174.29 points, earning big points for their footwork and lifts.
The 2014 world junior champions have been skating together since 2012 and were competing at the Four Continents Championships for just the second time and first since 2015, when they finished fifth. The duo led after the short dance with their samba/rumba routine with a score of 69.08.
They recently finished fourth at the U.S. championships.
Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus of Canada jumped from third after the short to second and won the silver medal with a total score of 164.96, while Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed of Japan took the bronze with 163.86 points.
They were followed by two more sets of American up-and-comers with 2016 world junior champions Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter taking fourth place with 160.12 points and 2017 world junior champions Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons, brother and sister, coming in sixth with 155.30 points.
The Four Continents Championships continue through Saturday.