|Patrick Chan skates with a flag after being presented with his gold medal at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Moncton, N.B., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)
MONCTON, N.B. - Over the New Year, world figure skating champion Patrick Chan travelled to Las Vegas to relax, recharge and find that little something to help him get his skating back on track.
Whatever it was he found, the Toronto skater should bottle it and set up a booth somewhere.
Since his little soul-searching holiday, Chan’s skating has been unworldly. On Saturday night at the Canadian figure skating championships, the 21-year-old skater won the short program with a score of 101.33 points, a Canadian record and, unofficially, the highest short-program score ever.
Chan topped even that on Sunday in the long program. Skating to the moving Concierto de Aranjuez by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo, Chan’s program on the Moncton Coliseum Complex ice was near perfection. His jumps, including a quadruple toe-double toe combination, a quad toe and a triple flip-triple toe combo, were solid and his assortment of spins and footwork brought the near-capacity to crowd to their feet well before the music ended.Many fans had tears in their eyes as the program reached its conclusion.
The judges awarded him mark of 200.81 for the long and an overall score of 302.14. His marks at this weekend’s Canadian championships, for the short, long and overall, far exceeded his world-record marks from last year’s world championships in Moscow (93.02, 187.96, 280.98) — though the marks here don’t count as world records because they were awarded at a national championships.
“I didn’t drink. It wasn’t the alcohol,” said Chan, when asked what it was in Vegas that turned his season around. “It was just relaxing, just having the right people around, and having time for myself and watching shows — being on the other side, as to being the performer.
“And gambling is also exciting. You know what, gambling was a big part of it,” he added, with a laugh. “I’m going to be a gambling addict in 10 years, you’re going to be writing about me.”
Chan has struggled somewhat heading into this year’s Canadian championships — though he won two Grand Prix events and the final, with a lot fewer points — and he certainly didn’t plan on breaking the 100-point barrier on the short and the 200 in the long here at the nationals.
“But once I broke 100 in the short, I thought, ‘OK, 300 can be possible,’” he said.
The Toronto skater said the key to putting together an exceptional performance in Sunday’s long was not to get overly excited, or consciously try to break the 200 mark — a controlled program, he said, with a “balls to the wall” approach. And that’s going be his motto leading to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, stay relaxed and take every competition as it comes.
“Hopefully there’s many more like this,” he said. “Standing on the podium, I was like, ‘I hope this isn’t like the first and last time I skate like this.’”
Chan said he’s not going to worry about anyone outside of Canada pooh-poohing his exceptionally high scores here in Moncton. A reason why scores at national championships don’t count as world records is the perception that judges at domestic events might be too generous to their own skaters. But Chan believes in his heart, as did the Moncton crowd, that his skates were world-record performances.
“You can’t really do anything about (what people say),” he said. “But I’m not going to let people ruin my fun.”
Quad king Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., earned his highest finish ever at a Canadian senior championships, receiving a score of 158.63 for his long — skated to a video game number called Chrono Trigger — and 239.44 points overall. Reynolds, 21, landed two clean quads, though he wobbled on the landing of his opening quad salchow. It also appeared as though it landed a quad loop, but it was downgraded to a triple. In any event, Reynolds is slowly achieving the form that may result in Canada having two potential world medallists in future seasons.
Jeremy Ten of Vancouver placed third with 207.50 points, after earning a score of 136.69 in his long.