January 23, 2011
Chan simply fantastic
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
VICTORIA — It’s hard to put into words Patrick Chan’s performance at the Canadian figure skating championships on Sunday.
But how about this: The best men’s freeskate ever.
Jeff Buttle, the 2008 world champion, certainly thought it was the best ever, and he wasn’t alone.
“That replaces the Olympics pretty much,” said Chan, of the standing ovation he received at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre after his Phantom of the Opera-inspired free. “That’s the reaction I wanted when I was at the Olympics.”
Chan’s freeskate was certainly one of the best ever. That is indisputable. The Toronto skater earned freeskate marks of 197.07 points and an overall scored of 285.85 — world bests.
“I guess 300 (points) is possible,” said Chan, with a laugh, after his historic skate. The defending world championship silver medallist nailed two quad toe loop jumps in his program, including one in combination with a triple toe. He also nailed the triple Axel, a jump he’s had issues with in the past, and brought it all together with his renowned artistry, including his exceptional step sequences and spins.
If Chan skates like that at the world championships in Tokyo this March, he’ll undoubtedly emerge victorious.
“I’ve never seen a skate like that at any level,” said Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada’s high performance director. “We had no idea where that would score because I haven’t seen a program like in a competition.”
Chan, 20, only performed the quad for the first time in competition this season at Skate Canada and now he’s doing two in his free. In the past, Chan had been criticized for being a skater who relied on artistry for big scores, but now the Ottawa-skater is the total package.
“I think technically I’ve got it covered,” said Chan, of his technical elements. “Maybe I’ll work on a quad flip for next year.
“I looked at it as if I was at worlds and Dice-K was going to skate after me,” Chan continued, of Olympic bronze medallists Daisuke Takahashi, who is expected to be his main competition in Tokyo. “I want to ride this confidence wave and learn from this and take it with me, bundle it up, and bring it on the plane.”
Chan, who was disappointed with his fifth place finish at the Vancouver Olympics last year actually described the program as “shaky” at times and pledged that there’s more to come.
Veteran skater Shawn Sawyer also had the performance of his life to finish second behind Chan with 229.09 points, while Joey Russell of Labrador City, NL, now training in Barrie, was third with 204.02.
Sawyer, 26, had never finished higher than third at the nationals and actually quit for a few months last year over his disappointment of not making the Olympic team. But he proved with his Alice In Wonderland-themed free that he has what it takes to be a world force.
Defending bronze medallist Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., who became the first person to land two quads in a short program at Skate Canada, moved up from fifth to fourth (191.85), but he didn’t skate particularly well, barely landing any of his quads and falling late in the program on a step sequence.