China’s Pang Qing and Tong Jian look set to claim an unprecedented fifth ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championship title after dominating the pairs’ short programme in Taipei.
Pang and Tong were the penultimate couple on the ice in the Far East but it made no difference as they blew early leaders Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, from Canada, out of the water.
The Olympic silver medallists pulled off a near-faultless routine in the short programme to earn a score of 71.41points with Lawrence and Swiegers in second but well down having recorded 59.98.
Pang and Tong – who won their first Four Continents crown in 2002 and last in 2009 – couldn’t be better placed ahead of the free skate where they hold the world record set at the Olympics last year.
The pairs title hasn’t left Chinese hands since Rena Inoue and John Baldwin won gold in 2006 with Pang and Tong’s biggest challengers after Lawrence and Swiegers also well down.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford lie third after the short programme just shy of Canadian teammates Lawrence and Swiegers with a score of 59.92.