SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Even Patrick Chan gets nervous. On Saturday night, Patrick Chan competed against nine other men, but mostly he competed against himself. Luckily for him, he won.
“I was nervous, honestly,” he said after earning 173.93 points for his free skate, (187.96 is his best) and 262.03 in total, well behind his record of 280.98 from the 2011 world championships.
For some reason, Chan began harbouring negative thoughts that defeated him last season at times. He found it a real challenge even before he started to skate the long program. When he took to the ice tonight, he tried to channel what he learned doing the short program the night before: look forward to doing the competition, do it for the joy of it and take one quad at a time.
He accomplished that mission, at least sometimes during his Vivaldi routine. His opening quad toe loop – triple toe loop was easy, and so was the following quad toe. He racked up high grade of execution marks for both. But then the pesky triple Axel came back to haunt him; he doubled one, and then he singled a double Axel later.
He doubled the last part of a triple Lutz – single loop – triple Salchow sequence. And in the final moments of his program, his combination spin went loopy. He received only a level one for it. When he settled into his final pose, the audience erupted.
It was enough for now.
Yuzuru Hanyu, a world bronze medalist in 2012, took a hard fall on an opening quad Salchow, then put a hand down on a quad toe loop. He left a lot of points on the table when he eked out only a single Axel – single toe loop out of something that was supposed to be a triple-triple. He gathered force after his rocky beginning and then chalked up enough point currency to earn the silver medal with 234.80 points on Saturday. “I am not so happy with my program,” he said. “I don’t know why I fell down.”
Nobunari Oda, whose career has been rocky for several years, has been working at building himself back into contention this season, trying to get one of those three Olympic spots that six Japanese men are fighting over. He took the bronze medal at Skate Canada, after both of his quad attempts went poof, and then he fell on a triple flip. It could have been worse. “I feel regrets,” he said. “My performance was far from my best.” He’s still trying to qualify for the Grand Prix Final and will need another top result; the Grand Prix Final serves as one of the qualifying criteria for the Japanese Olympic team.
Michal Brezina of Czech Republic did the opposite of his peers. He almost surprised himself when he landed two quad Salchows, one with a double toe loop, for the first time in his career, but his efforts tailed off later, when he said he couldn’t feel his legs. He finished fourth with 218.32.
Elladj Baldé, the 2008 Canadian junior men’s champion who seems to be finding his footing tried a quad, but it turned into a triple when he felt he lacked the right power for it. He’s seventh overall.
Andrei Rogozine finished eighth.