December 20, 2011
Chan's gold medals get him the nod
By DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency
Perfection almost wasn't enough.
Patrick Chan's world figure skating championship and unbeaten season didn't make him a slam-dunk -- or in this case a landed quadruple jump -- choice as QMI Agency's male athlete of the year.
It's hard to argue with Chan's performance in 2011 but a good number of our voters did exactly that. Figure skating doesn't have a whole lot of street cred around these parts, apparently.
Rising tennis star Milos Raonic was a close second to Chan in our chain-wide voting. It was a tad surprising Raonic did so well. He would have been a strong choice if he'd been healthy and continued moving up the world rankings. But hip surgery knocked him off the court for nearly half the year.
Baseball stars Joey Votto, our inaugural winner last year, and John Axford had commendable years -- columnist Steve Simmons, for one, argued that Votto's stats in 2011 were on par with his 2010 NL MVP season -- but with no individual awards on their resume, both took a called third strike in the voting.
Two of the early favourites to take the AOTY award, Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry and UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre, barely got a sniff. And it was the right call. Perry is off to a slow start this season and GSP, now out for 10 months due to a blown-out knee, defended his title just once.
A push from our Quebec voters got cross-country skier Alex Harvey on the ballot. Same with skier Erik Guay, the downhill winner at the world championships in Garmisch, Germany.
But in the end, Chan's string of gold medals managed to sway enough of our voters, even those allergic to sequins.