December 9, 2011
Rough week for Canada's Chan
By Ryan Pyette, QMI Agency
QUEBEC CITY - Patrick Chan won't soon forget this International Skating Union Grand Prix final.
It started with a firestorm over controversial comments he made about figure skating in Canada and his growing affinity with his Chinese roots.
And then, the reigning men's world champion stunned the crowd at the Pavillion de la Jeunesse at ExpoCite by slamming hard into the end boards while attempting to add a triple toe after a well-executed quad jump.
“I said a bad word,” the 20-year-old said. “It was shock. I felt like Midori Ito (who fell into the camera well in a famous on-ice crash at the 1991 world championships in Munich).”
Chan was given credit for the combination but he paid a physical price for it. He had a big scrape on his elbow, but the short program winner declared himself fit for the free skate on Saturday.
“I hurt my knee a little bit and the side of my face,” he said, “but it was one of those things. The quad was one of the best ones I did this season. It was a perfect entry into the triple toe so I went for it and I paid for it. Christy (his coach Christy Krall) and I talked about when to put it in and she said if it feels right, get over with it.
“But I didn't do all my homework. I have to figure out where to put the triple toe and not crash into the boards again.”
He smacked the boards right in front of Krall. Had it been hockey and he ran into her, he would've been whistled for a five-minute charging major.
Chan came onto the rink to a hearty cheer from the home crowd. He wasn't sure he was going to receive it after his comments shocked the skating world.
“I was expecting boos, actually,” he said. “But I said there was no better place for this to happen in Quebec. You can tell in the crowd there are a lot of young girls and boys who are figure skaters and it gave me a lot of energy to hear them (cheer).
“I completely forgot about everything and just focused on my skating.”
In the wake of his controversial comments and his ensuing apology, some Canadians have expressed a willingness to see a little bit less of Chan in the future.
But unless he runs out of rink more often, he isn't going anywhere.
He is still the Olympic favourite – even though he's armed with the difficult task of holding that distinction for a couple of more years before Sochi 2014 in the ever-changing men's skating kingdom.
There have been six straight different men's world champions since Switzerland's Stephane Lambiel repeated in Calgary in 2006.
The last male figure skater to win back-to-back Grand Prix final crowns was Russian Evgeni Plushenko in 2000.
“I hope I can change that,” Chan said.
He won the Grand Prix final last year in Beijing. He can do it again on Saturday.
He wants, in effect, to create a Chan dynasty.
One of the best ways to gain a massive following, which Chan is interested in doing in Canada, for starters, is to keep winning.
There's an opportunity there.
He has revamped his lifestyle, changed his eating habits and fine-tuned his training to help prolong his ability to fend off the many up-and-comers. In recent months, he has said he would welcome the opportunity to skate against the old guard again.
Plushenko is always a possibility to return for the Russian Olympics. Evan Lysacek is the defending gold medalist but there's no firm word on whether he or the entertaining Johnny Weir will do the necessary training it takes to unseat Chan down the road.
Canadian Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, if they can stay healthy, will remain one of the best duos in the world. But even they haven't been able to dominate consistently the way Chan plans.
There is some promise in Canada, but there has to be some concern, too.
There was only one home country entry at the junior level of the Grand Prix final and that was Guelph's Katherine Bobak and Ian Beharry, who managed Canada's first pairs medal in eight years on Friday.
ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta said one of the reasons for the senior and junior competitions was to give the world an orchestrated peek at what was coming down the pipe.
Ramping up the juniors works for hockey and soccer, so why not get people excited about the future greats?
The Russians brought three impressive young women here, and that's not including 14-year-old phenom Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, the two-time Grand Prix winner who struggled in her short program and finished fifth.
She was a favourite, along with Japan's Mao Asada, who withdrew hours before the competition started. Her mom was ill at home in Japan and passed away on Friday.
This competition, so far, hasn't exactly turned out the way it had lined up.
Moir fell on his back in the short dance, and he and Tessa Virtue are over five points behind American training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
That was supposed to be the tightest, most compelling story here.
But before everything got going, it turned out to be Chan.