Patrick Chan atop the Canadian podium once again

Perhaps it wasn’t so perfect, but it was perfect enough.

Patrick Chan won his seventh Canadian championship title with a goodly performance, a step-up from his short program where his mind wandered and played tricks on him.

This time, he had it mostly under control in a season that has been his most consistent on record. The crowd roared loudly when he landed his opening quad-triple, raking in 17.07 points for it. Then he mustered only a double toe loop in place of his second quad, and his hand flailed downward to the ice on a triple loop, but otherwise, the three-time world champion had his thoughts under control, thinking element by element. He got a standing ovation for his efforts and won the free with 188.30 points and the overall title with 277.42.

Kevin Reynolds’ battle was far tougher. He had to overcome boot issues that had scuttled his entire season, making this Olympic trial his first and only competition before Sochi. For a few fleeting moments, Reynolds Olympic bid looked vulnerable, when he landed his opening quadruple Salchow on two feet, and then fell on a triple Axel.

But Reynolds fought back, landed two quad toe loops, one in combination with a triple toe loop – double loop, and later, a triple flip – triple loop really sang.

He finished the free in third place with 164.16 points, six points behind Chan – although it was only a year ago that Reynolds had defeated Chan on the technical mark.

Still, Reynolds’ 242.45 total score was good for a silver medal.

“It was a fight the whole way through,” said Reynolds, who finished fifth at the world championships last March. “Nothing was comfortable out there. I’m just glad I was able to get this competition under my belt. I definitely needed this going into Sochi.”

Reynolds said the past two weeks have been very nervewracking, thinking his Olympic bid might be sunk by a pair of ill-fitting boots. Nine pairs of them, actually since the world championship. “Nothing had been going well in training,” he said. “To be able to do this even though it was far from perfect, I’m very satisfied with this week.”

Reynolds said in the next three weeks, he’ll just have to buckle down and ignore whatever is bothering him and push as hard as he can. “This does give me confidence that I can improve things and do a respectable performance even if things aren’t feeling great,” he said.

He said he would have been happy with the top three. He just wanted to get a spot to Sochi.

Strangely enough, Liam Firus, a 21-year-old who had been fifth at the Canadian championships, when he had landed his first triple Axel in competition, defeated Reynolds in the free skate, even though he fell on his triple Axel attempt. Reynolds still defeated Firus technically, but Firus earned top marks for his presentation, getting an array of impressive marks as high as 9.25 out of 10 for his lovely run on the blade.

Injury problems set back Firus’s season drastically, but he never doubted the Olympic dream. “I thought: ‘You know what? You’re going to be on the Olympic team,” he told himself not so long ago. “You’re going to work as hard as you can. It’s going to be tough. Nothing is going to be easy. This is my goal. I told myself I was going to be here. And I was.”

Firus pushed through to the end and ensured he had the best chance possible. During a long wait after Reynolds skated, Firus skated around with his headphones on while on the ice – a novel sight at a skating competition. He said he was listening to his favourite music: electric dance music, to get into his zone.

When Reynolds marks were announced, he covered his ears. “I shut it out,” he said. “I knew he was in first place, but I didn’t need to hear what his score was.”

In short, Firus’ plan worked splendidly.

Beverley Smith

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