Judges have their say

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:24 PM ET

LOS ANGELES -- New judging system. Same old story?

"A new system took over. The same judgment," said Patrick Chan after what many viewed as the Canadian getting hosed by the judges in the short program of the World Figure Skating Championships here yesterday.

It was hard to find anybody in the Staples Center who saw it any different as Chan ended up third heading into tonight's free skate final.

Chan, who skated a completely clean program, took his seat in the Kiss 'N' Cry area and mouthed "One more!" to the TV cameras about tonight's long program.

ECSTATIC

Up behind the Canadian media bench CEO William Thompson was ecstatic.

"Man, he was awesome. That was damn good. I'm really glad he was born a Canadian."

Then the marks came up. The crowd booed.

Chan was placed third to Brian Joubert of France and Evan Lysacek of the USA.

There were stunned looks all around the building.

Chan, who had recorded the highest score of the year at 88.90 ended up with a mark of 82.55.

"I can't believe that," said Calgary Olympic heroine Liz Manley. "That's unbelievable. I thought he won easy."

Downstairs in the mixed zone Canadian high performance director Mike Slipchuk was remaining restrained.

"It's experience. You have to learn here, to cope with the situation and use the experience for next year at the Olympics. Every experience you have between now and next year you take and build on it. And there's not many points back between first and third."

Slipchuk was doing fine until someone asked him about the low transition marks.

"To me if you want the definition of transition you just saw it," he said.

"That was confusing."

Coach Don Laws said he too was confused.

"The skills were the same as ever. As long as the skills were each the same ... there shouldn't be variables. I think the marks were a little low. In fact they WERE low."

He was asked if maybe Chan was marked down because he was 18 and only in his second year at the Worlds after finishing ninth the first time out.

"I don't like to think about that. I'm certainly aware of the circumstances. He's certainly got the goods. They must know that."

Chan reached the mixed zone cool and calm. But eventually somebody asked the right question and pushed the right buttons when it came to the component scores - the footwork, transitions, choreography, etc.

"I'm really disappointed about that, I think a lot of people are going to be talking about that, because I think -I'm not going to say anything - but it's pretty obvious the big difference between me and Evan against Joubert, it's a big difference in the program," Chan said. "It's really frustrating."

And that's when he made the "new system" ... "same judgment" comment.

NEW FACES

Chan said there were a lot of new faces on the judges panel: "A lot of them I'd never seen before."

A half-hour later in the press conference room, Chan toned it down.

"At the Worlds you are expected to do a clean program. I have always been told I have been leaving too many points on the table. I am not here to criticized the judges. It was realistic. It was a reality check."

He also said maybe it's a good thing to be third going into the free skate final.

"I'd rather be third than first. I'll sleep better as the one who is chasing rather than being chased."

Joubert, in the centre of a quad controversy with Chan to start the week, had the four-rotation jump in the program in combination with a triple toe loop but touched a hand down on the quad and over-rotated the second jump.

While Joubert's 84.40 didn't match his season best of 86.40, he out-pointed Lysacek (82.70) and Chan (82.55).

"Tonight I was a little bit nervous," said Joubert, the 2007 world champion who has also won three silvers at the event.

Four-time world champion Kurt Browning said Joubert had some positives.

"He had a program that suited him and sold it," he said. "But I can't comprehend the score."


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