Patrick Chan sets a new world record in men's short program
LONDON, Ont. - It almost felt metaphysical, the "tingling" sensation that two-time world champion Patrick Chan felt during his final spin.
During a performance deemed inspiring by commentators and spectators, Chan finally delivered, winning the short program at the world championships and reclaiming his world record that he'd lost earlier in the season to the young Japanese upstart Yuzuru Hanyu.
The 98.37 points that Chan won on a chilly March day eclipsed the 91.37 earned by second-place finisher Denis Ten of Kazakhstan. Four Continents champion Kevin Reynolds is in third place, well back with 85.16.
The men's event promised to be a tough race to handicap with quads proliferating at a great rate and breakthrough performances coming from everywhere all year. Make a small mistake and you'd slide down the ladder to oblivion very quickly.
Ten appeared stunned when he saw his marks in the kiss and cry and Reynolds, who hadn't been sure he was even going to make it to the event after a cyst broke at the back of his left knee, could never have visualized the sea of red flags and the wild cheers that greeted him even before he took to the ice.
Not since the days of Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko has Canada had such a one-two punch in men's skating.
Other men couldn't keep pace, folding under the pressure, even if only lightly. The 2010 world champion Daisuke Takahashi of Japan, underrotated his quad, landing on two feet, and he also underrotated the last part of a triple Lutz - triple toe combination. Those underrotation cost him; He's .50 points behind Reynolds, who also defeated him at Four Continents.
European champion Javier Fernandez landed a big quad Salchow at the beginning of his program, and then astonished the crowd when he singled a triple Axel in a corner. He's in seventh. It's "not right" to blame one because of one popped jump, he said afterwards. His plan? "to keep my head safe from every bad thing that anybody can say," he said. "I'm just really excited for the free program."
Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, the world bronze medalist last year, came into the event running to catch up. He's in ninth. He fell hard on an underrotated quad toe loop , and then sprawled to his knees on a triple Lutz, that was supposed to be the first part of a triple-triple combination.
He had much to overcome. After the Four Continents in Osaka, Hanyu took a quick trip home for two days to Sendai. But after he returned to Canada, he fell ill with the flu for 10 days. Then he tweaked his knee a little bit. He lost five days of training from that. As the world championships loomed, Hanyu had just begun to rotate his quads again for the first time since Four Continents. And he'd only started to find his timing.
The 2011 European champion Florent Amodio fell out of a spin, ended up 10th, and distraught, didn't speak to reporters. He didn't show up at the draw for the freekskate either.
One relic from the past did emerge from the darkness: the 2007 world champion Brian Joubert emerged from the darkness to finish fifth, annoyed with himself that he landed only a quad toe loop - double toe loop instead of a quad-triple. It cost him three points, he said. The other astonishing thing? Joubert earned level fours of difficulty on three spins - elements that had never been his forte. He's been working hard, he says. And he's now more comfortable that the world seems to be turning again to a race for quads, something that he hopes to amp up by next year, when he promises two quads in the short and three in the long. He's been training quad flips as well as quad Salchows, too.
But top of the heap, easily, was Chan. With his frustrating season apparently behind him, Chan had the crowd on it feet as he held on to land a quad toe loop - triple toe loop combination and a triple Axel, all done with high grades of execution. But when he went into his final spin, he said he felt a rush of tingling and also a cold rush through his body. "You can only feel that once in a lifetime, I think." "Of if you're going to jump off a building."
The feeling came with the knowledge that he'd worked for this and it wasn't just luck. "Figure skating isn't arbitrary and I think a lot of us think that it is," he said. "I definitely thought that. I dealt with it yesterday and I talked to Kathy (Johnson, coach) a lot. Today, it was just proof that it's not. It's not a matter of luck. It 's a matter of how much work you put in and how much confidence you have."
Chan said he found the final piece of his year's puzzle by moving to a different environment - Detroit - to train for the three weeks before the world championship. He bunked up with ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje and worked, happy to be in a high quality club with top skaters. It seems that he has finally found his peace.
The long program is on Friday night. Stay tuned for more surprises.