Patrick Chan on track for 7th Canadian title in Ottawa

Patrick Chan is still looking for the missing pieces of the puzzle he’s trying to put together to become an Olympic champion.

He found a few were missing on Friday at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships when he doubled a triple Axel and a Lutz.

He wanted the short program to be perfect and when he started off on Friday night with an absolutely powerful quad toe loop–triple toe loop combo that netted him plus threes across the board (earning 17.40 points alone for that first move), he let go of his plan.  He began to think ahead of himself, pleased that this could perhaps be the perfect short he was hoping for before the Olympics. “I kind of relaxed because I thought it was over,’ he admitted.

The program, “Elegie in E Flat Minor” had conquered Chan at the Grand Prix Final when Japanese champ Yuzuru Hanyu defeated Chan by a large margin and Chan was not able to make up much ground on him in the long.

“I had a rocky Grand Prix Final and …I think that’s the source of all this,” Chan said.

Chan said he was startled at the marks he received at the Final and the mistakes he made in the short and found it “hard to go back home and have that long of a time to think about it [before the Canadian championships].”

He realizes he needs to take one element at a time – which is what he did when he won the Bompard Trophy in Paris so brilliantly.

“I’m still learning at this point,” he said. “There’s this last missing piece that I need to slot in before the Olympics.”

Still, he won with 89.12 points with his Jeff-Buttle choreographed routine that had produced a couple of world records.

That’s about 10 points ahead of Liam Firus, fifth last year at the Canadian championships. Even Firus was taken aback by finishing second, after having an injury-plagued season, and taking a hard fall on his triple Axel in the short program.

Kevin Reynolds, fifth at the world championships last March, is in third place with 78.29 points, only .64 behind Firus. But he had troubles from the start. After a few seconds into his routine to AC/DC, the music stopped.

It was just a little too much to bear for Reynolds, who had missed all of his international competitions and everything else because of boot problems that have plagued him all season. “I really had to focus and get back into my space,” he said afterward.

He fell on his opening quad Salchow, and then had the presence of mind to squeak a double toe loop onto the end of his quad toe loop, allowing him a combination worth 10.27 points.

Among the other competitors trying to get those Olympic spots: Elladj Balde, also competing on the same old boot-new boot combination that he used at Skate Canada International. He was pleased to land a quad with a hand down and finish fourth and last year’s bronze medalist Andrei Rogozine is fifth.

However, the skater who got the loudest standing ovation among the men was 14-year-old Roman Sadovsky, who delighted the large crowd with his flair and his spins and performance to finish eighth at 68.59 points. It was the largest crowd he had ever faced having been only to a few junior grand prix events.

“It was different,” he said. I’m so used to performing basically to a wall.”

Beverley Smith

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