by Alexandra Stevenson
(14 March 2013) The withdrawal of the Belarussian brought the field down to 34 men from 24 countries; only the top 24 progress to the Free Skate.
1. 98.37 (52.70 +45.67) Patrick Chan, 22, the home country hero, gave a spectacular, delightfully choreographed showing to Rachmaninov’s “Elegie in E-Flat Minor”, dressed tastefully in a dark blue top and black trousers, to easily outskate the field. Sporting aficionados in the sold out Budweiser Arena in London, Ontario, gave him a resounding standing ovation, and no one, not even his top rivals’ coaches, can realistically criticize that accolade. Even though his short wasn’t absolutely 100% perfect, it was a superb performance and he stands like a beacon on a lighthouse, protecting the whole country’s splendid heritage in the sport.
His lead over the relatively unheralded Denis Ten from Kazakhstan, who trains with Frank Carroll in Carroll’s relatively new rink near Palm Springs in California, is a comfortable 6.81 points. Chan’s score surpassed Yuzuru Hanyu’s 95.32 points from NHK Trophy 2012, which stood as the previous record high for a men’s Short Program.
Chan said this was “the icing on the cake. I worked very hard for the past three weeks which really paid off. I do this program every day in practice. The Canadian fans helped me to be more focused, and to concentrate more. They lift a lot of pressure. Today, it wasn’t luck, just a lot of hard work that paid off. This feels almost as great as the Vancouver Olympics.”
Naturally, the vast majority of Canadians are delighted at Chan’s success, and the unexpected bonus of having a second team member, Kevin Reynolds lying third. Of course, they both face incredible pressure to maintain their status when the event concludes on Friday evening. If Chan wins, and that is very likely, it will be first time any skater has won the world title three times in a row since Russian Alexei Yagudin claimed gold, 1998, 1999 & 2000. Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko won three times but not consecutively, in 2001, 2003 & 2004.
Chan admits he is under pressure. “Our placings (collectively for team members) here determine a country’s allocation (of entries for next year’s Olympics of 1, 2, or 3) so that’s the No. 1 reason for me to do well. That’s very important! Reason No. 2 is that I want to defend my title that I won twice. It would mean a lot to me to overcome all the hardships that I had this season. The third thing is a win here would create a lot of good momentum and energy and personal confidence going into the Olympics.”
Chan definitely had to use incredible strength to hold onto the landing of his quad toe loop, a tension fault because his weight wasn’t absolutely 100% over his blade but that was only really noticeable to those who are really cognizant with the sport, or who were sitting at the right angle
But, using a great deal of strength, he did get airborne for the second jump, a very good triple toe loop, which was high and long. In total he earned 15.97 marks for this jumping feat, which was the first of the seven required elements. One judge still punched in +3 GoE which means “of the standard of the world champion” while the others were split equally between +1 and +2.
Then came his triple Axel, with which he earned a full two points over its base value of 8.50. A different judge punched in the maximum GoE of +3, while all but one of the others gave +2. (The out-of-line judge gave +1.) There was one more +3, this for Chan’s triple Lutz set in the second half when skaters receive a 10% bonus for jumps. This element gained a total of 7.90 points. All three spins and the steps received the highest Level 4. The steps received five +3s and four +2s. His flying sit spin and the concluding combination spin both received two +3s. His components rose to two 9.75s for third of the five categories, which is for performance & execution. His lowest were two 8.50s from one judge.
Chan, who appears to have the top grade of vocal muscles along with unlimited patience to answer all the media demands this week, further added, “I worked very hard for the past three weeks which really paid off. I do this program every day in practice. I love the Canadian fans, they are inspirational and create excitement. The Canadian fans help me to be more focused, concentrate more and they lift a lot of pressure. Today I had no luck, just a lot of hard work that paid off. This feels almost as great as the Vancouver Olympics. Setting a new world record is just the icing on the cake.
“This is where we determine our spots for the Olympics, so that’s No. 1. Very important! No. 2, I want to defend my title that I won twice. It would mean a lot to me to overcome all the hardships that I had this season. The third thing is a win here would create a lot of good momentum and energy and personal confidence going into the Olympics.”
Astonishingly, he admitted that, just a month ago, “I wasn’t skating as I normally was. I couldn’t find my stride, I just felt like I was a step behind every time I tried to do something,” he said about his training in Colorado Springs. He has now made a full change and is based at the Detroit Figure Skating Club, although that may be temporary. Apparently his previous situation in Colorado Springs had just grown old and he was ready to move on.
He now says, “When you are in an environment like this where it's full of people and I know they are all behind me and they love me, all I want is to give them back something amazing they are going to remember. Going into my last spin I just felt this surge from the ice, through my boots, through my body, where I was so excited because I finally did it on a day that counts in front of a crowd like this. I was on the edge. I wanted it so bad it could go terribly wrong or it was going to be amazing. Luckily it went on the positive side.”
2. 91.56 (58.81+40.75) Denis Ten, 19, from Kazahkstan, who trains with Frank Carroll in his new rink in Eastern California, set his own Personal Best for a Short Program by an amazing 13.51. “It was a surprise,” he said. “I didn’t know how the other guys did. I’m shocked!”
He opened his smoothly dynamic routine with a quad toe loop which earned him a total of 12.01 points. Skating 32nd of the 35 competitors, dressed very snazzily in a most impressive tuxedo, and interpreting with a lot of feeling music from “The Artist” by Ludovic Bource, he ended the performance beaming with joy. He received two +3s from one judge for both his triple Axel and his jump combination, triple flip to triple toe loop, and three +3s from the judging panel for his steps. All his Level moves were advanced enough to qualify for Level 4.
He said, “I am happy. Second was a surprise. I didn’t know how the other guys did. I’m shocked. It was important for me to skate well. I have one day off. I will get focused on the free skate. It is always a pleasure to skate in Canada. I will be fresh and focused for the free skate. The start of my season was rough with injuries. I am still not fully recovered. I injured my right ankle in December and then my left one after that. I have been working harder, skating more and working out longer.”3. 85.16 (47.69+37.47) Kevin Reynolds, 22, Canada, opened with good quad Salchow to triple toe which earned him 15.60 poins right off the bat. Interpreting, “Chambermaid Swing” by Parov Stelar, his second element was a triple Axel which gained just a minimal +0.14 over its base value. His first spin, a flying upright version, gained the top Level 4 but only +0.41 Grade of Execution. (The range for this award goes from -3 for a fall up to +3 for perfection.) Then he pumped up the crowd’s expectation, hoping to be the first to ever bring off a second quad, this one a toe loop, in the Short Program. But the landing, while not classed as a fall, was not clean. The brave attempt got full credit for the four revolutions and, although his Grade of Execution was penalized by two points, he still banked 8.30!
His spins and steps were Level 4. However, his component score was only ninth best! But that was not something he was worrying about at this stage. He said, almost as if he still couldn’t believe his good fortune, “I had a cyst rupture in my left knee ten days ago. We have a day in between before the long program, time to keep my cool. There’s nothing like having your name announced and see all those Canadian flags. My knee feels better. It´s a short-term injury. It was a small interruption. I felt a lump at the back of knee originally and then when I skated the knee went. But today, I wasn’t thinking of that. The crowd really helped.”
Reynolds, who is from British Columbia, has been trying his quads for some years but never getting the credit. “When I first came onto the senior circuit I had the big jumps already, but I didn’t really have much else, so it’s been quite a process to get to where I am now.”
4. 84.67 (41.50+43.17) Daisuki Takahashi, 26, who, in 2010, was the first Japanese man ever to win this title but was only fifth in 2011 and second last year, got his feet twisted on landing of quad toe which was saddled with an arrow for slight under-rotation. He also got an arrow for slight under-rotation on the second jump of his combo late in the routine, of triple Lutz to triple toe. His triple Axel, however, was superb, eliciting one +3, six +2s and a +1. All his spins were Level 4 as were his steps which concluded the routine. He performed the steps so well, the judges rewarded him with eight of the maxmum +3 GoEs, and one +2. His components were the second best of the competition.
Takahashi skated right after Ten and immediately before Chan. He agreed, “There were jump mistakes, but, overall, the program was not so bad. The result wasn’t great but, for myself, I am pretty satisfied about my performance. My condition hasn’t been the best so for this condition I did my best and I think the completion of this program was pretty good. I could put a lot of emotion in the program and I feel positive. I am happy with the program, for me, it was really good. I was really with the skate. For the free, I will just do my job. I have practiced a lot and I believe in myself. This is a very important event.”
5. 84.17 (44.20+39.97) Brian Joubert, 28, France, who won this event in 2007, performed in black with chiffon covered cut-outs performed to “Genesis” by Justice and “Aerodynamic” by Daft Punk. He began with a good quad but combined it with a double instead of the planned triple toe loop. All his elements, including the triple Axel and triple Lutz, three spins and the step work received good Grades of Execution, and all the spins were Level 4 and the steps were Level 3.
Third, fourth and fifth places were separated by less than a points, so, if he had done that triple he would have been lying third. Actually, the star feature in his routine, which really got the capacity audience going, was the amusing “running in place” almost at end. He said, “I am very, very happy with my skate this evening. I feel very comfortable with how I did. Worlds is a very important competition but it is just practice for the Olympics next year.”
6. 83.09 (43.92+39.11) Michael Brezina, 22, Czech Republic, dressed in black with red, skating to Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King”, begining with a very high quad Salchow, followed by a triple flip to triple toe loop. But he had to do a double three turn to hold the landing of his triple Axel and lost -0.71 off its base value. His flying sit spin and steps were Level 4 but the change foot camel spin was Level 3 and the final element, a change foot combination spin a mere Level 2 and lost a minuscule -0.04 from its base value.
Yet Brezina, who was third in recent European championships, claimed, “I feel really good about my skate. It was one of my best. Everything was good except my last spin. I was nervous and tried to concentrate too much, that was my biggest mistake tonight. I feel very confident and comfortable with my long program. I connect to the music while skating and it really helps.”
7. 80.76 (40.20+40.56) Javier Fernandez, 21, Spain, who recently won the European championship, skated first on after the last ice resurface. Dressed in red and black, he presented an enjoyable routine to “Mark of Zorro”, soaring into a smooth, high quad Salchow which was landed lots of spray. But then, he singled his Axel. His flying upright spin received Level 4 with +0.57 GoE and his triple Lutz to triple toe loop, executed past the point where the 10% bonus marks kick in, gave him 12.21 points.
He said, “There were a lot of good things, but one mistake. I am still in the game for the free, but it’s not going to be easy to get there. I will keep practicing and fix those little mistakes we had today. (I moved to Canada) to have great coaches and a great team and that’s why I have made the progress I have. The goal for the competition is top five, to improve every year and to keep working every day.
About singling the Axel, he said, “I felt really calm going in. I don’t know what happened. At that moment I popped it. Pressure can bother you, but I keep pressure away. I keep working and that is what I try to do. That wasn’t the problem today. Pressure is always going to be there I focus on my skating and myself. My free is really difficult but I know I can do it. I HOPE after tomorrow I can do it!
8. 78.20 (43.56+34.64) Max Aaron, 21, the new U.S. champion, making his debut in this event, skated 21st right after Kovtun, the young Russian’s unfortunate showing. Aaron performed an interesting routine to music from the movie “Tron Legacy” dressed in an outfit meant to make him look like a computer chip. He brought off a quad Salchow to double toe loop which earned him 11.94 points. Although his first spin, the flying camel, was only Level 2, the other two spins and his steps were Level 4. His triple Axel, set in bonus time, received a total of 10.06. His components ranged from a 5.50 up to two 8.00s from the same judge.
He said, “I was really relieved. I had a weird fall in the warm up. It was like a hockey hit. It made me focus more. When I have been practicing, there´s been a lot of Canadian fans present. So I got used to the crowd. I felt they had my back. When I hit my head (in the warm-up) it was a bit of a shock.”
Asked why he executed a quad-double instead of the planned quad-triple, he explained, “My weight came forward on the quad (landing), so I just did the double toe. It was part of our plan. I am pleased with the results. This is the first time I had a Level 4 in footwork. (On the triple Axel) I really had to hang on to that landing. About hitting his head, he said,” I felt (the impact) right away. I shook it off. It was good experience to do it here. Now, I am ready for anything. I am disappointed. This is not how I trained. I put in a lot of hard work. My coach (Tom Zakrajsek) said I can be mad at myself until 11 tonight and then I have to focus on Friday. I had good determination, good levels. I need to do what I have been doing in practice.”
9. 75.94 (36.12+40.82 -1) Yazuru Hanyu, 18, Japan, who won bronze last year in this event, had a bad fall on his opening element, a quad toe loop, which received an arrow for slight under-rotation and he ended up with only 4.2 points for the move. (Skaters are not permitted to repeat a messed up element.) Although his triple Axel, set after the bonus mark point, gained a total of 11.06 marks, he messed up his triple Lutz which was meant to be a combination. His spins were all Level 4 and the steps Level 3.
He was, naturally, upset. “I am really angry at myself and really unsatisfied with this performance. I want to take revenge in the free skating. It is good we have a day off in between. I want to come back strong and take revenge.”
10. 75.73 (37.99+38.74 -1) Florent Amodio, 22, France, skating to Memories of Sobral by Sebastian Damiani, tripled his quad toe loop and pulled himself off his take-off edge on change foot combo spin and got no points for this element. He was so upset he would not talk to reporters. However, Didier Gailhaguet, the President of the French Federation explained that Amodio had been off the ice recently for a week because of a back injury and was somewhat undertrained.
11. 73.46 (36.17+37.29) Takahito Mura, 22, Japan, skating to Malaguena, had a problem with his initial jump, meant to be a quad toe loop. The toe rake went into the ice strangely and he just got no height or rotation from the aborted take-off. He ended up with just +0.10 for the element. He did well on his other jumps, a triple Axel even received one of the maximum +3 GoEs, and his triple Lutz to triple toe loop earned a total of 11.00 points.
He said, “That kind of mistake that I couldn’t use my toepick never happened to me before. I am in shock. After that I was able I was able to focus on the rest of my program.” This is his second appearance in the World championship. In 2009, he finished 15th.
12. 73.03 (41.10+31.93) Nan Song, 22, the Chinese champion, messed up his quad toe loop but still got credit for the rotation. He said, “It wasn’t very good today. I held back and I felt a lot of pressure. Hopefully I’ll be able to skate better in the free skating. My degree of difficulty is even higher in the free skating with two quads. My goal is to give a strong performance to finish the last competition of the season on a high note and I hope to finish in the top ten.”
13. 71.20 (38.87+32.33) Peter Liebers, 24, the German champion, said, “It was worth it to work with (choreographer) Lori Nichol before coming here and to change half of my step sequence. Now I got a level four for everything.” He did not try a quad. “I played it safe and that has paid off. You know that you can get through the program clean.” He had a poor Short Program at the Europeans. “So, I wanted to show that I can do better. Obviously, there is pressure, to show all you can, but I try to be relaxed.”
14. 70.24 (35.21+36.03 -1) Ross Miner, 22, USA drew to skate last, immediately after Chan and the time-consuming, ear-shattering reception from the fans. That proved to be quite an initiation, and Miner’s tough inner spirit seems to have flown his body after he fell on his first element, his quad Salchow, which received a double arrow for under-rotation. He also was saddled with -0.86 Grade of Execution taken off the base value of his triple Axel and his triple Lutz to triple toe loop lost -0.40 off its base value.
Miner admitted, “I am disappointed. This is not how I trained. I put in a lot of hard work. My coach said I can be mad at myself until 11 tonight and then I have to focus on Friday. I had good determination, good levels. I need to do what I have been doing in practice.”
15. 68.45 Misha Ge, 21, Uzbekistan, said, “I did the best for the moment. The elements were clean. I met my goals. My biggest goal is improving every time. I’m glad I did better than last time and I want to show an all-around free program, get good levels and for the audience to enjoy what I do. Canadian fans are great. I appreciate that the Canadians rank my performance so high. They are very receptive to music choice and choreography.”
16. 68.32 Alexander Majorov, the 21-year old Swedish champion, whose country capital, Stockholm, will host the 2015 European championships, said, “I was shaky but managed to hold on. I was a little worried today because I destroyed my program before. But, I was focused today, not as relaxed as at Euros. I am relaxed now it is over.”
17. 68.05 Tomas Verner, 26, Czech Republic, did a quad toe loop but his foot collapsed and he wasn’t able to execute the second jump. Plus, he fell on his triple Axel. The 2007 European champion said, “It doesn’t feel good. I didn’t make big mistakes. I need to look at the replay. 68 points means Worlds is over for me. Friday will just become an exhibition. I will do my best to please the fans. I changed a lot. I had a really good four weeks. I was very consistent. But, I am having issues competing and now my standard is low. I have some thinking to do. The problem is not an injury. I felt good. I am 26. If I want to be at the Olympics, I need to fix my head!”
18. 67.35 Andrei Rogozine, the 20-year old, third ranked Canadian, who skated seventh, very early in the proceedings, said, “It was a decent short. I had to alter the program - the quad was not working out. Overall, it was a good performance. In the morning practice, it didn´t feel good. The (triple) flip took the place of the quad. But, in Friday’s Free, I´m going all out. I wanted to make the least mistakes as possible. My triple Axel is consistent but I stepped out tonight. The quad has been less consistent.”
19. 65.85 Maxim Kovtun, Russia, 17, who did so well winning December’s Junior Grand Prix Final, fizzled. His opening move, quad toe loop to triple toe loop became triple to bad double. He was so upset, he wouldn’t make a comment but his famed coach, Tatiana Tarasova, volunteered, “I explain this with a lack of experience. He lost energy in the six minutes warm up. But he went into the quad toe. There was no mistake on the entry and he just should have done it. It is a shame. But I don’t regret that he is here. He needs experience. If we get only one spot for next year’s Olympics and Worlds, we’ll send the one who deserves it.”
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