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2013 World Championships

Patrick Chan Apologises for Falls, but not for Third Straight World Title

 by Alexandra Stevenson

Chan Defends His Win

After the World Championships had concluded in London, Ontario, Reuters news agency put out a story claiming the figure skating scoring system “is harder to understand than the theory of relativity and offers as much transparency as a Papal conclave.” They gave this as the reason there is a lessening interest in the sport in North America.

But that’s not quite true.

Part of the problem is that there are now very many more sports, including highly visually-entertaining snow sports combining gymnastic moves which make for good television in part because they are so obviously dangerous. And young people are watching less television due to the time they spend on their personal computers.

The news agency supported their criticism of the home country hero, Patrick Chan’s third straight world championship win, with a quote from 2010 Olympic gold medalist, Evan Lysacek, who tweeted, “No disrespect to Patrick but a skater shouldn't be able to fall twice & get such high (component marks).”

Lysacek’s instructor, Frank Carroll, who teaches in a rink in western California, also coaches Denis Ten, the youngster from Kazahkstan who beat Chan in the Free Skating section in London, but remained second overall.

For the 2010 season, Carroll created wonderful programs for Lysacek, which took full advantage of the possibilities given in the new system (including the added importance of superior spins, footwork, and great transitions) which allowed the American to win without presenting a quad jump.

That lack of a quad jump infuriated the Russian supporters of 2010 Olympic silver medalist Evgeny Plushenko, whose forte is the quad jump. Plushenko’s silver and not gold in Vancouver was aggressively criticized by Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and this led to the International Skating Union’s raising the base value of quads. This, in turn, has led to the escalation of both the number of quads tried by the top competitors and a significant increase in falls, including two from Chan! More skaters are getting injured.

Plushenko was the defending Olympic Champion in 2010. He had won gold in 2006 and silver in 2002, and is a huge star in his own country. Initially, he was slated to compete in this world championship, but he aggravated a back injury competing in January’s European championship short program, and was forced to pull out of the event.

The now 30-year-old has since had replacement surgery of a herniated disc in his back and may still be a factor next season, although his landing knee has had multiple surgeries. Lysacek, 27, also has not ruled out trying to compete in another Olympics, but has not competed since his Olympic win, and that possibility seems remote.

But they would both have to face the 22-year-old Chan, who said, “I deserved the title.” After all, he was hardly going to criticize the authorities in his sport. But, he added, "It's totally understandable that people have their doubts. You look at hockey (Canada’s top sport). It's really simple - Score one more goal than the other team and you win. Figure skating has always been more controversial.”

A Technical panel of two experts, who are required to have been active for most of their lives in skating competition and/or teaching the sport, sets levels from 0-4 for the spins and footwork. They are overseen by a top I.S.U. official. In addition, a panel of nine judges rates each of the 13 Free Skating moves punching in a Grade of Execution immediately following the move’s completion on a scale of -3 for a fall up to +3 for perfection. Falls, minor or major, also get a point deduction in addition to their -3 GoE.

At the end of the routine, the nine judges also give points from 0-10 for five categories of “components”: Skating Skills; Transitions/Linking footwork; Performance/Execution; Choreography/Composition; and Interpretation. These component scores are obviously very subjective and judges are now encouraged to watch practice (which was frowned on before this system was adopted) to fully familiarize them with the programs' contents.

These five categories are all extremely subjective, and judges, who are appointed by their own country's association, are not required to have any sort of musical training. However, the sport is definitely fairer that the previous system in place up to 2004, when there was no Technical Panel, and the nine judges gave a total of only two marks for each skater.

Chan explained skating is not just jumps, and that you do get credit for completing the full rotation on a jump even if you do fall. “People don’t understand that- how difficult that is, even if you fall so you do get some credit for taking the risk.”

Most fans watch on television which flattens figure skating and it doesn’t give a true representation of the difference in speed that skaters have. Chan absolutely zooms around the ice.

“I would keep telling people I deserved to win and would more than love to explain why. They just have to consider all the factors.”

(17 March 2013)

Chan outshone by California trained Denis Ten from Kazakhstan
Fernandez springs from seventh to win bronze -- first Spaniard ever to medal at Worlds.

1.  Overall 267.78; 2. FS 169.41 (82.13+89.28 -2)  Patrick Chan, 22, Canada’s hero had a less than stellar free skate with two falls. But he began very well. Skating 21st of the 24 competitors allowed to progress to the Free Skate, to music from the famed opera, “La Boheme”, he opened his with a quad toe loop to triple toe loop which received five votes of the maximum +3 Grade of Execution and the rest +2. That banked for him 16.97 points. The following solo second quad toe loop received seven votes of the ultimate +3 GoE, which added a further 13.16.

But then he fell on his triple Lutz. “That’s something I have to discuss with my coaches. I haven’t fallen on a Lutz for – I can’t remember – and I am angry with myself about that. That scared me and I lost momentum.” However, his following steps were Level 4 and four judges gave them +3 GoE. His change foot camel spin, however, was “only” Level 3 with +0.93.

Then came the second fall, on a triple Axel, which was given an arrow for slight under-rotation. Although he recovered enough to complete a +1.0 triple loop jump, he struggled with the subsequent triple flip to half loop to triple Salchow, which had -1.30 subtracted from its base value.

Later, he explained, mistakes do sap the competitors’ energy. “The more you fall, the more tired you are. I got angry with myself. I am mad because I didn´t skate well for this audience. I think the audience saved me. I am glad it’s a two program competition and that I had that beautiful short program.”

He managed to get Level 3 for the subsequent flying sit spin and the second triple Lutz combined with a double toe loop was an “OK” but nothing special +0.13 . His choreographed section didn’t have its usual flamboyancy and he received only one “+3” but his final jump, a double Axel produced +0.43 from the judges and his spin, a change foot combination received +0.79.

It may not have been vintage Chan, but his sensational beginning gave him a cushion, and second place in this section was not out of place. Were the components too high? Well he didn’t get any of his “usual” 10s. There was one ridiculous 9.75 for Transitions (out of a total of 45 marks). That judge also gave three 9.50s and a 9.25. The low was one 8.0 and there were 17 marks in the 8.25 to 8.75.

2.  Overall 266.48  Denis Ten is from Kazakhstan, the largest of the previously Soviet held countries, “Most Americans do not know my country. They think it is some small, unimportant middle-eastern country but it is not,” Ten says proudly. It is the world’s ninth largest country, bordering China to the east, Russia to the north. “We are not poor.” They have oil revenues which financed the building of a totally new capital city in the north once they had been released from Russian control. Native Kazakhs are a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated into the region in the 13th century, and were united as a single nation in the middle of 16th century. The area was conquered by Russia in the 18th century and though they later won their Freedom, the Soviet Union subsequently encompassed them. Ten was born in the old capital of Almaty.

In 2010, he and his mother moved to California, where he is trained by Frank Carroll. This is the now 19-year-old’s fifth appearance in the world championship. His best placing was last year’s 7th. He was over the moon at his first place in the Free and not at all upset that it didn’t bring gold. “It felt great and I am proud of myself. I never thought I would finish the season this way. Of course it was a surprise for me to be second in the short program and I never expected this. My free program hasn’t gone well all season.”

He performed to various pieces of music from the movie, “The Artist” for both Short & Long programs. He drew to skate his Free 23rd, and opened with a quad toe loop which received three +3s and six +2s. He got two more of the maximum Grades of Execution for this second element, triple Axel to triple toe loop, AND for the subsequent second triple Axel, AND his Level 4 steps. He executed his choreographed section as his last but one element and that received seven +3s and two +2s. His final move, a Level 3 change foot combination spin, also got one +3. All but one of the judges gave him at least one +3. It would be interesting to know who the exception was.

He had previous skated in Canada’s Grand Prix this season, in Windsor across the river from Detroit, but finished only sixth. The pressure of lying second after the Short Program, he said, was enormous. “I went into the long imaging I had already lost a medal because I needed to skate with freedom. That was my mental strength. I am glad I could skate with power.

“I didn’t sleep well these last two nights after the Short Program. I was too nervous. I was happy with my program, but, at the end, I wasn’t sure that I stay in the top three. This year Worlds was amazing, every year this is the competition everybody is looking forward to. I was waiting for this moment so long I am glad I could skate with power. I never thought I would finish this high. I can’t believe I won the silver. I never thought the season could finish this was. It’s like a dream I am still sleeping in. I had rough skates this season. I had truly a hard time. If this is a dream, I hope I never wake up!”

3.  Overall 249.06; 4. FS 168.30 (83.00+85.30)  Javier Fernandez, 21, who is from Spain but trains in Canada with Brian Orser, won bronze advancing from 7th in the Short Program with a Charlie Chaplin Free branded 4th best. He began with a very good quad toe loop earning one +3 with six of the other judges punching in +2 but two others contenting themselves with only +1. That resulted in an extra +1.86 over its base value of 10.30 points.

But then he doubled his planned quad Salchow which was combined with a double toe loop. That cost him mightily and he banked only 2.66. He recovered with a triple Axel, which was rewarded with one +3, seven +2s and one +1. His change foot sit spin was Level 3 with +0.57. But his Level 4 steps were magnificent and he earned three +3s and the rest +2s.

His quad Salchow, set at the half way point in order to earn the 10% bonus, received two +3s, seven +2s and a +1, which translated into 13.69 points.

But then he made another error singling his Lutz to double toe loop, which earned a mere 2.09 points. The following triple flip to single loop to triple Salchow earned an extra +0.80 and his flying change foot combination spin was good enough for Level 4 and +0.43.His choreographed section earned an extra +1.10 while his final jump, a triple Salchow got +0.80. But his final spin was only the basic Level 1. His components peeked at three 9.50s and bottomed with eight 8.0s.

Fernandez declared, “Today’s program was a little bit of everything. I had a great start, but also made some mistakes; I had some good jumps and some bad jumps as well. I am happy this season is done, it was a great season for me. I won many medals (including the European title). It’s great to see how the work that you put into it actually starts to work. Now we have to get ready for next year and stop doing those little mistakes.”

“It’s a very hard program technically with three quads. This puts a lot of pressure on the skater. I know I can do it, even though I didn’t do it today. But it’s the end of the season and I am tired so those mistakes can happen. We’ll have to see at the beginning of the next season what the aims for Sochi will be. Well, top five would be amazing, winning a medal would be my dream.”

Fernandez trains at the Toronto Cricket & Curling Club with Yuzuru Hanyu, an 18-year old from Japan, who is from Sendai and was in the earthquake in 2011. The Spaniard said, “I was very happy when I heard that he was coming to train with us. He is a great skater, a great person, he works very hard. Having him with us helps us all.”

4.  Overall 244.99; 3. FS 169.05 (89.05+80.00)  Yuzuru Hanyu, who is 18, is from Sendai, the center of the terrible Japanese earthquake. He was practicing in his home rink when the tragedy struck. He subsequently moved to another location in Japan but then decided to train in Canada. He won bronze in his debut in this event last year. Here, in London, he rocketed up from ninth place after the Short Program. His first jump was a good quad toe loop which was rewarded with +0.57. However, his second quad, a Salchow, was slated with an arrow for slight under-rotation and he lost -1.86. His triple flip was given an “e” for wrong edge take-off and lost -0.60.

But everything else, including two triple Axels, the first combined with a triple toe loop and the second with a double toe loop, earned positive GoEs including a triple loop; a triple Lutz to two double toe loops; and a triple Lutz. Two spins and his steps were Level 3 but the concluding flying change foot sit spin earned Level 4. His components ranged from one 7.0 up to one 9.0.

He said, “I am quite satisfied with my program (which was set to “Notre Dame de Paris”). I put everything I am capable of at this important time into my program. I appreciate everyone and everything for this experience. I touched my knee and my ankle at the end of my program to thank them for supporting me.

“After Four Continents, (where he won silver for the second time in three years) I became ill and I missed 10 days of practice. Once I was better I went to training hard without Brian (Orser). I should have taken a slow start, but I trained too hard, did quad toe and quad Salchow. So I inquired my left knee (ligament injury), but I am pretty happy I did my best.”

5.  Overall 239.98; 7. FS 154.82 (77.04+77.78)  Kevin Reynolds, 22, from British Columbia slipped from third. Skating to “Concerto No. 4 in E minor for Piano and Orchestra" by Andre Mathieu, the 22-year-old opened his routine with a flawed -1.29 triple Salchow. His second element, quad toe loop to triple toe loop, was saddled with an arrow for slight under-rotation of the first jump. The same penalty was given in his next combination, triple Axel to triple toe loop. Later, he got another arrow for his third quad.

He said, “My whole program was difficult with difficult jumps. I felt a lot of pressure skating in the last position. The jumps were a little tight. This is the first time for me in such a high pressure situation. Considering all that, I am pleased with my performance. I had a lot of confidence coming into worlds which helped me get into the top group of skaters. Worlds is a once in a lifetime experience and it is more special being in my home country. The energy of the crowd got me through to the end of my program.”

6.  Overall 239.03; 8. FS 154.36 (70.36+85.00 -1)  In 2010, Daisuke Takahashi became the first ever male Japanese Olympic figure skater to win an Olympic medal when he won bronze in Vancouver. Shortly after those Games, he became the first Japanese to claim the mens world figure skating title, so sixth place here was not a welcome finish.

Skating to the very dramatic “I Pagliacci”, his initial move, a poor quad toe loop, got an arrow for slight under-rotation and he banked only 4.91. His subsequent attempt at a quad toe turned into an OK triple. His triple Axel was good and he earned two full extra points and his spins and steps were all Level 4s with good GoEs. The steps were rewarded with four votes of the maximum GoE, +3. His choreographed section, which was his 12th element, also received three votes of +3.

But a fall on his second triple Axel, executed at the bonus mark half way spot, received an arrow for slight under-rotation costing him a place overall. His components ranged from two 7.75 up to a high of one 9.50.

He skated a day before his 27th birthday. He told the Press, “I have nothing to say. I had enough training, but couldn’t show my best, that I was aiming for, here. Probably I failed to control my condition so it would peak here. Lots of spectators are supporting me. It was a very nice atmosphere. But I couldn’t do my best.”

7.  Overall 238.36; 6. FS 160.16 (85.86+74.30)  Max Aaron, the new U.S. champion, who turned 21 on February 25, was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, but now trains in Colorado Springs. This is the former hockey player’s debut in this event. He moved up a slot from eighth in the Short Program. Fifth, sixth and seventh were close and it must have been frustrating discovering that just 1.63 points more would have landed him in fifth place. Skating a well-choreographed routine to “West Side Story”, he opened with a planned quad Salchow to triple toe loop, but the second jump turned into a double and was landed in a spray of ice chips, which didn’t go down too well with the judges. Then he doubled his second attempt as the quad Salchow.

His first two spins and the steps sequence were the maximum Level 4 with +0.36 for the spins and +0.90 for the steps. At the bonus point, he executed a triple Axel to double toe loop which earned a total of 12.07. Then came a +0.90 triple Lutz, a second triple Axel which received +0.43, and a flying change foot sit spin which received Level 3 with +0.29.

After a triple Lutz to loop to triple Salchow, which earned an extra 1.40, he did a triple flip which was given an “e” for wrong edge take-off and he lost-0.70 from its base value. After his +0.80 choreographed section, he finished with a +0.80 triple loop. His component scores ranged from a low of one 6.25 up to six 8.50, four of which were given by one judge.

He said, “It felt great, the crowd was amazing. It was about making sure of being competitive. I think it went pretty well. My thought was ‘Don’t let your foot off the gas!’ Worlds is an opportunity to learn from the experience, a set up for Olympics. (Last year) I think it helped. I learned you can come a long way, if you keep focused. I am here to attack. Little error in Salchow, but I kept attacking, kept driving. It´s like a hard shift in hockey sometime when you can´t get the puck out of your zone.”

8.  Overall 234.18; 5. FS 160.72 (84.50+76.22)  Takahito Mura won bronze in the recent Japanese Championship. He turned 22 on February 11, and is competing in his second World championship. His former appearance was in 2009 when he finished 15th. He pulled up from 11th after the Short Program. He said, “I didn’t do my best. I tried for myself, but it didn’t work. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes as I made at Four Continents, but I did. I had enough training, but I need to control myself better.”

9.  Overall 232.26; 10. FS 148.09 (65.81+82.28)  Brian Joubert, the28-year-old French man who won this title in 2007, continues to lose ground. He dropped four places from fifth to ninth with a Free Skate which was ranked only 10th best. This is his 15th World championship. He finished 13th in his first entry in 2002 but after that has always been in the top nine. In addition to his gold, he has earned silver three times and two bronze medals, but he has not been on the podium since his second bronze in 2010.

He said, “I am very satisfied about my performance, maybe not too much with the marks, but that was not my goal. I am happy though I could do both of the quads.” The second quad got an arrow for slight under-rotation. He continues not to pay attention to the rules and his last jump, a triple flip got no points at all because it was ruled an illegal element. Nevertheless, he said, “I gave everything tonight and I am glad I could do two great performances. It was definitely a good thing to skate after Patrick because he stimulated the audience, I loved the feeling I had out there.”

10.  Overall 229.00; 11. FS 145.91 (70.17+77.74 -2)  Michal Brezina, 22, from the Czech Republic, skated a well-conceived routine to music from the soundtrack of “The Untouchables” but dropped from sixth after the SP after falling on his opening move, a quad Salchow and then again on his second attempt, and later messing up and slightly under-rotating his triple Axel.

“I don’t really know what happened,” he said, “I just didn’t do what I was supposed to do, what I wanted to do. Maybe I wanted it too much and thought about it too much. I knew I could still do another triple Axel, so I tried it, but I hadn’t practiced it, and well, it didn’t work the way it should have. Now I have to get ready for the next season and skate better than I did today. That was the worst run-through of the past few weeks. I’ve been skating in the last group for the fourth time at Worlds now. It’s just that every year I am so close to the medal (after the short) and maybe I care too much about the medal. Maybe I need to care less and just do what I can do, the way I did at Europeans

The following three skaters had only 0.24 points dividing them.

11.  Overall 216.84; 12. FS 145.64 (78.92+66.72)  Peter Liebers, 24, from Germany, skating to “Resistance” and “Hurt” performed by Muse on two cellos, was delighted with his performance. “I am overwhelmed and just very happy and satisfied with myself. I felt very good, relaxed but still focused, just like I did in the short. I was able to show what I can do in practice, and it was important to have a good competition this year, looking forward to Sochi.

“I think that showing should earn me a spot to the Olympics, and maybe I can get a Grand Prix event as well. We decided to leave out the quad yesterday. Of course it is another level with the quad, but I felt better that I didn’t have to do it. Now I can take a break from the ice for two weeks and focus on my studies, before going back to Canada and start working on the programs for the next season with Lori Nichol.”

12.  Overall 216.83; 15. FS 141.10 (63.52+78.58 -1)  Florent Amodio, 22, the 2011 European champion, had a disastrous time, performing to “Jumpin’ Jack” and “Broken Sorrow”. He explained, “It was tough. I simply was not ready. I didn’t really have a preparation going into these championships. I suffered from a stress injury in my back. After the short program, I thought I just have to get away from here, but today I fought until the end and I can look at myself in the mirror again. After a minute and a half I didn’t know how to finish my program. I was in pain and I felt very tired. This is also the reason why I didn’t do my last double Axel at the end of the program (which meant he presented only 12 instead of the required 13 moves). I had a magical season. But now I just feel tired physically and mentally. For the Olympic season, I’ll keep working.”

13.  Overall 216.60; 9. FS 149.25 (81.03+68.22)  Andrei Rogozine turned 20 on January 29 and this was his debut in this event. The Canadian was born in Moscow and came to North America as a child, lives in Richmond Hill, so he was skating in his home state. Accompanied by “Broken Sorrow” performed by Nuttin’ but Stringz and “Fanfare” by Black Violin, he advanced five places from his Short Program finish.

He said, “I was feeling a little off today and practices were not going well. I went back to the hotel for a nap and decided that I was going to end my season on a good note and put all my thoughts and energy into tonight’s program. I have been playing around with my jumps to ensure I received the most points. Once I landed my quad toe I felt good. I made minimal mistakes. I put my triple Axel in the second half of my program and this is the first time I have done that. The crowd’s reaction was crazy, I have never had that big of a reaction. I am relieved and happy.”

14.  Overall 211.90; 13. FS 141.66 (73.38+69.28 -1)  Ross Miner, from Boston, who turned 22 on January 24, used the stirring music from the old movie “Captain Blood” by Erich Korngold, but did not put out his best. He began ambitiously with a quad Salchow but was forced to put both hands on the ice to keep from falling, and then he did fall on his second element, a triple Axel. Both got an arrow for slight under-rotation.

However, he then brought off seven good elements: a second triple Axel to double toe loop which earned an extra +0.70; a Level 3 flying sit spin which got +0.50; a triple Lutz to triple toe loop which earned an extra +0.90; a Level 4 step sequence which earned a full point extra; and a triple Lutz to loop to triple Salchow which was set at the halfway point and so earned a 10% bonus for a total for this move of 12.47. Then came a Level 3 change foot combination spin with +0.50 added to its base value; and a +0.40 triple loop.

But then he executed a flawed triple flip which received an “e” for wrong edge take-off. His choreographed section received +0.60; his double Axel +0.43 and his flying change foot combination spin was Level 4 with +0.50. His components ranged from seven 6.50s up to three 7.50s.

It was a disappointment because Miner had finished 11th in his debut in this event in 2011 in Moscow. With no jet lag involved, it was hoped he would do better.

He said, “I think in the long (Free), it’s less of an ordeal. Today, I made some silly mistakes. Overall, based on NHK (the Japanese Grand Prix event) and Nationals, I’m a little disappointed. A top 6 finish was a reasonable goal. I think I tried too hard. I need to focus on my job, need to find my mojo. Every time I get to compete with the best it’s an opportunity to learn from the other skaters and about myself. This season has just ended. We have some ideas for next season.”

15.  Overall 207.68; 18. FS 134.65 (68.05+66.60)  Nan Song, 22, the twice Chinese champion, dropped three places from his Short Program result. Although he didn’t fall, he tripled his quad attempt and made major errors on three jumps. He said, “I didn’t have enough energy. I was very nervous and that took away some strength. I felt pressure to get two spots for the Chinese team for the Olympic Games. I didn’t skate very well. I didn’t do the quad, probably because of pressure. I didn’t skate as well as I had last year, and I didn’t my goal.”

16.  Overall 207.50; 16. FS 139.05 (68.81+71.24 -1)  Misha Ge, 21, representing Uzbekistan, dropped a place. He said, “I think it was one of my best skates. I was glad to compete in this long program, which was a Charlie Chaplin number, happy to do my best, better my last score. The audience was cheerful. I have better results this year, hopefully (even) better next year. We tried to show a good skating package. My mom is a choreographer, so I learned from her. This program is mostly my choreography, with some of hers. I love dancing and acting. It’s not easy to make great art. I am glad I made people laugh. Next year, I want to bring another emotion.”

17.  Overall 207.40; 14. FS 141.55 (75.81+66.74 -1)  The 17-year-old Russian, Maxim Kovtun, who had so brilliantly won the Junior Grand Prix Final in Sochi in December, rose two places from his Short Program standing but it was an extremely disappointing showing and means Russia will only field one entry in the Olympic Games.

He began a little tentatively with a +0.29 quad toe loop to double toe loop, which was intended to be a quad-triple. But his second quad toe loop was a good +1, and the following triple Lutz to triple toe loop a competent +0.60. His first spin and the steps were Level 4 garnering an extra +0.71 and +1.00 respectively. But, after a triple Axel to double toe loop, which earned an extra point, and was set at the half-way point to earn the 10% bonus, things deteriorated.

He had a poor landing on his second triple Axel and then fell on his triple flip which was saddled with both an “e” for wrong edge take-off and an arrow for slight under-rotation. His last two jumps were a double Salchow and a single Axel and the two spins were Level 3.

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