Men's Free Skating

by Alexandra Stevenson

O Canada was played and the maple leaf raised to celebrate Patrick Chanís victory in the first event completed in these world championship. His scores (total 280.98) broke the world record for both the Short and the Free Programs and finished a huge 22.59 points ahead of the silver medalist, Takahiko Kozuka of Japan. Artur Gachinski, 17, the Russian national silver medalist, who was making his debut in this event, took bronze. The last Canadian mens world champion was Jeffrey Buttle in 2008.

The top three in the FS were the top three overall. Kozuka, 22, zoomed up from sixth after the SP. He has placed eighth, sixth and tenth in his previous entries to Worlds. He pulled off a stunning upset in December in his national championship, taking the title and beating the 2010 world champion and Olympic bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi and his other teammate in Moscow, Nobunari Oda. Both Takahashi and Oda had problems in this yearís Worlds and finished fifth and sixth. Gachinskiís teammate, the Russian champion, Anton Kovalevski, 26, who was buried in 16th place here.

The US skaters finished 9th (Richard Dornbush); 11th (Ross Miner) and 13th (Ryan Bradley) which means that only two US skaters can be entered next season when Worlds are in Nice. Even Chanís win hasnít enabled his country to enter the maximum next year. To earn three spots, the sum of two competitorsí placements must be 13 or less. However, Chanís team mates, Kevin Reynolds and Joey Russell, finished 20th and 24th respectively.

The 20-year old Chan has been the runner-up in this event for the past two years. The defending champion, Daisuke Takahashi, 25, who was the first ever Japanese to win this title, was considered a favorite for this title, despite losing his national title in December, because he had skated so well when winning the recent Four Continent Championships in Chinese Taipei. However, as you can read in the SP report, he was lying only third going into the Free. He subsequently dropped to fifth overall. Watching from the audience were past holders of this title Evgeni Plushenko, who was shown on the Jumbotron applauding both Russian entrants, and Stephane Lambiel.

1: Overall score 280.98; Free Skate 187.96 (96.44 elements + 91.52 components) Patrick Chan performed to Phantom of the Opera, a routine which he has done for the past two seasons. He said, "It was an amazing performance considering I had to skate first in my group (of six which means the skater canít take full advantage of his six minutes without risking tiring himself and not having time to recover). The first quad toe was a little crooked in the air and I could have landed the triple Axel better, but Iím proud I was able to do the two quads."

Chan looked very serious when going to his starting position. This is the first season he has successfully included quads in his routines. He landed his first in competition in the Skate Canada Grand Prix, in Kingston, Ontario, where he fell on the jump in the SP but successfully brought off this amazing feat in the Free.

Canadians have been in the forefront in the advancement of jumping. The first triple Lutz was performed by Don Jackson at the 1962 world championships in Prague. The first triple Axel accredited in ISU competition was accomplished by Vern Taylor in 1978 although it was fellow Canadian Brian Orser who presented a superior version at the 1981 Worlds and became known as "Mr. Triple Axel." The first quad was accomplished by Kurt Browning at Worlds in 1988.

Chanís first quad in his Free in Moscow was not solid enough for him to combine it, as planned, with a triple toe loop. However, the routine called for him to execute a second quad toe immediately after and he felt secure enough on this one to tag on the toe loop. Just those two moves alone earned him 22.59 points.

Four of the panel of nine judges thought the combination was good enough to punch in the maximum Grade of Execution, +3. Chan also got five +3s for his Level 3 Straight Line steps, one for his Level 4 flying sit spin, two for his Level 4 change foot sit spin, seven for the choreographed steps which donít have a level, and three for his final Level 4 combination spin. His one error was a stumble on the landing of the triple Axel, for which he had 1.57 points taken off the jumpís base value of 9.35. (The original 8.50 base value is increased by 10% when the jump is executed after the half way point.). He also presented a unique combination of triple Lutz to half loop to triple Salchow. "I didnít hold back or change my planned content at all," Chan said.

Nevertheless, he was outscored in the technical marks by 2.09 points by Kozuka but Chan earned 9.26 more for his components than the silver medalist who got the second highest score for this category. One of Chanís assets, which earn him such high marks in this section, is his beautifully smooth, seemingly effortless but powerful flow over the ice. Asked what makes him a success, he said, "Figure skating is about being smart and taking care of my body, concentrating on both training but also making sure there is recovery time. I think Iíve taken a big step up from last season." To celebrate his win, Chan plans to go the Bolshoi on Saturday and to the circus on Sunday.

2: 258.41; FS 180.79 (98.53+82.26) Takahiko Kozuka did not make a single error in his four minute and forty second routine, which was set to Lizstís Piano Concerto No. 1, and received 13 +3 awards. Skating next to last of the 24 allowed into the Free, he presented two triple Axels, one of which was in combination with a double toe to double loop, and set in the second half when the bonus marks click in. However, he presented only one quad. He said, "It was my best performance this season and I'm very happy. The whole season was good, but this was the best. I saw for the first time that Mr. (Nobuo) Sato (his coach) openly showed his feelings and I am glad that I was able to make him happy." The white-haired 69 year old Sato was Japanese champion 1957-66 and guided his daughter, Yuka, to the 1994 world title. He currently also trains Mao Asada.

Kozuka, added, "I did the quad the best I could have done it. I am very glad that with my performance I was able to inspire the Japanese people in such hard times. It was my dream to medal in the world championships and I did it.

3: 241.86; FS 180.79 (98.53+82.26) Artur Gachinski, the 2010 World Junior bronze medalist who is taught by Alexei Mishin in St. Petersburg, drew to skate immediately following Chan and Oda. He skated to ShostakovichísThe Bolt, opening with a great +1.71 quad toe. However, he had to execute a double three turn after the triple Axel in order to get up into the air for the double toe to double loop with which the Axel was combined. That resulted in -0.57 being taken off the elementís base value of 11.70 points. But his second triple Axel, which followed immediately, was smoothly landed and earned a full point over its base value. Later, the youngster also got an "e" for wrong edge take off on his 10th element, a triple flip. All four of his elements which received a Level were awarded 3.

Gachinski was smiling afterwards. "I can say that my performance was almost perfect. I did my quad and two triple Axels. My points were just super! This is a big result for me. The support from the audience was great. I was nervous in the hotel, just a little, but then, when I came into the venue, I was calm, because I take skating as my job, which you must do what has to be done. This was a great season. I participated both in the Europeans (where he finished fifth) and Worlds. And both competitions were quite successful for me. I havenít spoken about our future plans with Aleksei Nikolaevich (Mishin), so I can't tell anything about what is next."

4: 233.61; FS 156.11 (83.19+74.92 -2.0) Michal Brezina, who is from the Czech Republic but trains in Germany, was 4th in the 2010 World & European Championships but only 8th in January in the 2011 Europeans, where, after placing 2nd in the SP, he had a disastrous FS. In Moscow, he finished 4th overall despite being 7th in the SP and 5th in the Free. He finished just 0.64 ahead of Takahashi, the dethroned world champion. Brezina had a brilliant start, soaring through a triple Axel for which two judges gave +3 GoE. That was immediately followed with a successful quad toe loop (+0.71) and a quad Salchow (+0.29). He was the only skater to bring off two different quads.

Brezina, who performed to Gershwinís An American in Paris, immediately following his teammate Tomas Verner and the American Ricky Dornbush, said, "I'm so pleased. Despite making the two mistakes at the end (falling on his 10th and 11th elements, a triple Lutz and triple flip), I had a great start with two different kinds of quads." He also had a negative on his first triple flip which was combined with a triple toe. He added, "I did this program and now I know I can do it. This season was quite hard for me because there was a time when I was injured (and had to have abdominal surgery). I even had the feeling it could be my last season." He appeared to tire at the end. "It could seem like that but in fact the beginning of the program was quite difficult and I'm pleased with it as a whole."

5: 232.97; FS 152.72 (71.64+82.08 -1.0) Things went wrong for the defending champion Daisuke Takahashi right from the start of the Free, which he executed immediately after Gachinski. Competing in his sixth Worlds, he was lying third after the SP only a small distance behind his teammate, Oda, but a chasm behind Chan (see below). At the start of his Free, he sped down the ice in preparation for his first element, the quad toe, but realized immediately he toe-ed the take off, that there was a problem, and aborted the jump. "A screw had come lose (attaching the left blade to the heel of his boot)," he later explained. "Itís my fault, although I check them every night." He went immediately to the referee, Briton Karen Archer, and was given the time, specified in the rule book, to fix the boot. The rules say the skater must pick up the routine from where he left off. The first element was counted as a single toe. Although a skater can improvise to some degree, there is a strict limit on the number of jumps which may be presented.

"I was very calm when I went out for the second time although I believed already that I won't have a medal now, because I didn't do the first jump." A quad toe has a base value of 10.40 and a single 0.40 and he even got a negative GoE on that!! He restarted the Tango routine at the second element, a triple flip to triple toe, followed by a triple loop to double loop to double toe but, although he tried, the program never really got going. He stepped out of his triple Axel, set at bonus time, and incurred a -1.86 GoE. The second triple Axel with an added double toe was good (+0.86) but then he collapsed and put two hands on the ice landing a triple Salchow. His triple Lutz was given a wrong edge call. Though he tried to put lots of energy into his steps, he was obviously disheartened at the end. His 6th place in this section dragged him down to 5th overall.

6: 232.50; FS 150.69 (72.25+78.44) Nobunari Oda was taking part in his fifth Worlds, so he should have known better. The Japanese 24-year-old, skating his Free to music from Griegís Piano Concertos No. 1 & 2, immediately after Chanís magnificent showing, was lying second after the SP, in good shape to take a medal. In the past he has demonstrated he seems incapable of understanding his sportís rules. And he fell into the same trap AGAIN! He began with a planned quad toe but when it turned into a triple he decided to improvise by combining it with a second triple toe. The jumps looked good and the panel was unanimous in awarding +2 GoEs. However, that meant heíd used up his allocation for that type of triple. Skaters may only repeat a triple twice.

Oda just canít get the hand of that rule. He had a triple Axel to triple toe scheduled next and did it fine. But that move was disallowed because he had exceeded his triple toe limit. That was a HUGE loss of marks Ė 10.10! He executed the rest of his routine without error, including a second triple Axel but his elements score was ranked only 11th. He was only 9th in the Free. He said, "I am really disappointed with my performance." Actually his performance was not the problem. His adding skill Ė 1 plus 1 is two is the problem.

7: 229.68; FS 152.04 (74.98+77.06) Florent Amodio, skating last to a Michael Jackson medley, immediately following Kozuka, showed his off-ice dance skills with an extremely energetic performance. He began with two triple Axels. The first gained +1.43 GoE and the second, combined with a double toe, +1.86 over the base values. His triple loop was given an extra +0.60. But his circular steps, though done in the spirit of the music were only Level 2. He doubled a planned triple Salchow in a combination to half loop to a second triple Salchow. He executed two triple Lutzes, the second combined with a double toe, after the half way point when the 10% bonus clicks in. However, his triple flip was given a wrong edge takeoff call. His flying sit and change foot combination spins were Level 3 but the final change foot sit was only Level 2. The choreographed steps, executed as his 11th of the 13 elements earned one +3 and great applause. He was seventh in this section and overall, but finished ahead of his teammate Brian Joubert.

He said, "I did a double instead of triple (Salchow) on my triple-triple combination. I felt a lot of pressure as I came here as the European Champion. But this was the performance I was looking for and I'm very pleased with it. I had a magic moment out

there and I could show who I am. The lyrics turned the performance even more into a party and, if I had to lose one point because of it, that didn't matter to me. I know that I'm not yet at the level of Patrick Chan. I was 15th last year and now I'm in 7th and I like that!"

8: 227.67; FS 156.38 (80.80+75.58) This was Brian Joubertís lowest place since he made his debut in this event in 2002. Because of his ninth place in the SP, he was assigned to Free Skate in the third of the four groups of six. Within his group, he drew to compete first (13th of the 24 allowed into the Free). He opened his routine, set to Beethovenís Symphony No.9, with a quad toe, which five of the nine judges deemed perfect and voted to give +3 over the base value. It was good but it was meant to be combined with a triple. Then, he tripled his second attempt at this move. His triple Axel was combined only with a double toe. The first spin, an upright earned Level 3 but his circular steps were only Level 3.

A triple Lutz and second triple Axel were great but then he did triple Salchow to double toe and triple loop to triple toe. Unlike Oda, Joubert was aware that since his second quad had become a triple toe, he was limited to only one more triple toe. Unfortunately, he stepped out of it and got -1.10 off the loop-toe combinationís base value. That seemed to take all the attack out of him and his circular steps were only Level 1 as was his final change foot combination spin. His final jump, a triple flip got an edge call. However, even with all these errors he was rewarded with fourth place in the Free. He pulled up to 8th overall only a couple of points behind his teammate.

Joubert said, "It was a very high level of competition indeed. I couldn't allow myself to miss a single element. But it was quite hard. I was tired but I kept fighting until the end."

He said in the future, "I'll change my preparation, because the beginning of the season

was difficult. I only started to feel better at the European Championships. I was lagging behind in my preparation. But I had some good practices before these championships and will keep working on the programs during summer. The fans supported me not only during the program, but while warming up as well. I like skating in Russia. I did cut my hand. There is nothing special in that. Itís pretty ordinary occurrence in skating. I got injured while doing a spin. My blood was everywhere on the rink, but that happens. I have no regrets now. I was relaxed in the warm up and I hit a beautiful quad."

9. 222.42; FS 151.88 (78.24+73.6) Richard Dornbush, 19, went from 11th last season in his first US senior championship to winning the silver this year shortly after taking gold in the Junior Grand Prix Final in China. He came out of this event as the leading US competitor. His Sherlock Holmes routine, which was ranked 8th best, enabled him to climb from 11th after the SP up to 9th overall, not bad for a world senior debut.

He acted up a storm setting the scene and then performed the opening element, a +0.50 triple flip. Then came his triple Axel. He had to struggle to hold the edge which lost -0.43 points. It was meant to be a combination. However, that did not throw him. He went to Plan B. "Just after nationals, my coach and I talked and decided that if I mess up the first Axel, as I did today, that I would be strong enough to do it on the second triple Axel. I'm definitely happy with my performance overall, with this being my first World Championships. Iím pretty proud of the 15.72 points I received for the triple Axel to triple toe after the bonus point.

"There were a couple of mistakes. I let the triple Salchow get away from me (he doubled it) and bobbled on the first spin but was able to save it. Of course the Axel was a little bit scratchy. But just being able to stay on my feet in both programs and seeing all the other skaters and what they've done is a total inspiration for next year. Itís definitely a relief to be finished. I feel like Iíve gotten a big weight off my shoulders. Iíve had a pretty long season but this whole week has been a great experience.

"I guess I should admit Iím somewhat of a perfectionist but Iím happy with the performance with this being my first world championships. Iím happy I stayed on my feet throughout both performances."

10. 218.26; FS 149.10 (84.32+65.78 -1.0) Javier Fernandez from Spain jumped from 14th after the SP to 10th, with a Free which was ranked 10th best. The 20-year-old, who skated to Pirates of the Caribbean, said, "It was so exciting to complete two quads (a +0.43 toe loop and a -0.43 Salchow) in one free program for the first time. I was a bit disappointed (to fall) on the triple Axel to triple toe. I felt a bit tired today, compared to yesterday, but I'm really happy about the culmination of the season and the competition itself."

11. 217.93; FS 147.53 (76.75+68.76) Ross Miner from Willston, Vermont, climbed from 13th to 11th with a Free set to As Time Goes Time from Casablanca which was ranked 11th best. All 13 elements received a positive overall GoE. He completed two triple Axels, one with a double toe loop, a triple Lutz to triple toe loop, a triple loop, a second triple Lutz, a triple Salchow to two double toes, a triple flip, and a double Axel. His final flying sit spin was Level 4 and the other two spins Level 3 but his initial element the circular steps were only Level 1.

"Iím really happy with how that went," said the 20-year-old, who trains in Boston. "I did exactly what I trained to do and I think it showed that it wasnít a fluke that I was third at nationals. Thatís what Iím capable of. Itís just a start. Like nationals, I didnít really think about how I was doing until I was done. I wish I had done the last spin a little better (it received only 0.07 over the base value) but other than that I thought I executed well.

I can't wait to go back home and start again. I fell three points short of what I wanted. But this is the first time I broke 200 internationally so Iím proud of that."

12. 216.87; FS 140.93 (65.85+76.08 -1.0) Tomas Verner from the Czech Republic, who has competed in Worlds since 2002, dropped from 8th after the SP to 12th overall with a Free which was only 13th best. The 24-year-old, who was 4th in 2007 & 2009, said, "It was a pity about the quad at the beginning (which was down-graded). I couldn't do anything about it. He collapsed onto his knee on his second move, a triple Axel.

13. 212.71; FS 142.26 (72.74+69.52) Ryan Bradley, the US National Champion, skated 17th, immediately before Ten. He gave a well choreographed showing in which he "played" Mozart, accompanied to a selection of music from the movie Amadeus. There was criticism that he looked slow. He was unlucky in that, athough he was ranked 12th in both sections, he dropped a place to 13th. He said, "My performance wasn't perfect but it wasn't bad. I hit two quad toes, which took a lot of energy. (The first was good and earned +0.71 over its base value but the second was under-rotated and given one arrow which means it received only 70% of its base value.) Of course I hoped to place a little better, but that's how it is.  

"What is funny is that this was the best season I've ever had. It's my highest finish in Worlds. (In 2007, he was 18th and in 2010, he was 18th.) It wasn't perfect, but nothing to be ashamed of. I think it's good. I felt a little sluggish all day. I did a lot of things that Iím happy about. It wasnít that perfect program that I wanted or expected. But I did two quads and a triple Axel, thatís a little better than at nationals."

14. 209.99; FS 138.99 (71.05+69.94 -2) Denis Ten from Kazahkstan, who trains with Frank Carroll, in California, skated to Lisztís Death Dance. He dropped from 10th after the SP to 14th with a FS which was ranked 14th. He fell on both triple Axel attempts. The 17-year-old explained, "The Axel is the hardest jump for me. During the whole season I worked on jumps. Some of them got better. I will continue to work at them. I'll try my best to show a quad next season. Ten skated immediately preceding the ice resurfacing. He said, "I was not very nervous to perform last in my group. This was a very serious competition and the number does not matter at all. I know that I will surely present a new program in the next season. I would not say that it was a good or a bad season. I would name it transitional one."

20. 187.23; FS 122.87 (63.65+62.22 -3) Kevin Reynolds, 20, the substitute for Shawn Sawyer who turned professional after the event was moved from Japan, fell three times. He dropped one place from 19th after the SP with a free which was ranked 21st. He finished 11th in last yearís worlds in his debut in this event so he was very disappointed. However, he is just recovering from injury. He said, "This program (set to a medley of Strauss Waltzes) was very disappointing for me. It didnít go the way I hoped. (He fell three times, on both quads and on a triple Axel.) The quads were coming back in practice this week, and I thought I could show them here. This season was very different from the others with Worlds taking place so late. I only knew I would be here four weeks ago and Iíve been injured. I will now start with the choreography of my new programs in a couple of weeks and I hope to do better next year."

24. 168.73; FS 107.04 (50.62+58.42 -2) Joey Russell, the 2011 Canadian National bronze medalist competing in his first world championship, performed to Don Juan de Marco, skating last of the first group of six skaters, immediately following Reynolds, his teammate. He dropped from 21st after the Short to last of those who qualified for this section. The 22-year-old said, "Doubling (the planned opening triple) Axel was probably the most disappointing part because it was my last long program of the season and it was here at Worlds. I need to work on being mentally strong to do this jump or at least everything else in the program. I wanted to do both triple‐triples (flip‐loop and Salchow‐toe loop) and I'm glad I did them today. I also wanted to feel like I was performing throughout my program. It was definitely a good experience (being at Worlds for the first time) competing with the best of the best, and (landing the triple Axel) in my short program was good for my confidence."

2011 Men's Medalists

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