by Alexandra Stevenson
1. SP 88.10 (43.17+44.93) Patrick Chan, the three-time world champion is beginning to show the strain of answering the same questions over and over. He maintains a smiling countenance, but he can’t read the future. He maintains Detroit is a better training environment than that of Colorado Springs and he compares the two by saying, “There’s just so much snow and mountains you can take! I just wasn’t happy there. In Detroit, there’s a lot of energy, a lot of people there. I feel I can work out and then go sit in the rink’s lobby and eat my lunch, with everyone so friendly. Honestly, the mountains and high altitude air gets old very quickly. Nature is beautiful, but no mountains or snow is going to make you happy when you're just not in a good environment.”
He doesn’t appear to have specific goals. After all, he’s achieved everything he can, with the exception of an Olympic medal. “I don't have technical goals. I don’t say, ‘I want to land my quad, and then my triple Axel so I can come first.’ Instead, I want to go out on the ice and be excited to be there as opposed to dreading competing, which had become a bad habit of mine over the last two seasons. That kind of dread, is really weird as an elite athlete. I needed a fresh environment. It’s kind of difficult to explain but I’ve competed on the ice for nearly all my life and it had developed into a kind of dreaded chore, instead of something I really enjoyed. I wanted to look forward to going into the rink and not dread it. Detroit has given me a new lease on competing. I don't think I was surrounded by friends where I could feel I had camaraderie, and that's what I found in Michigan.”
On Friday, skating ninth of the ten men, to Rachmaninov’s “Elegie in E Flat Minor”, the now 22-year-old, who has a birthday on the last day of the year, opened with his jump combination. But, instead of a quad toe loop to triple toe loop, he struggled with the first of the two jumps, making it a triple and he nearly fell on the second triple toe loop. He said later, “I went into the quad-toe to triple toe in the six-minute warm up the way I should have gone into it when it counted. In the six-minute warm-up I had a lot of confidence and I didn't have any pressure. I had the attitude of, if I land it, I land it. But I didn't do that in the competition. I went in a bit slow.” That meant he received negative Grades of Execution from the judging panel, and he ended up with a mere 7.20 points for that move.
The rest of his routine, however, was superb. All nine judges punched in +2 for his triple Axel and he received two full points over the base value of 8.50. His first spin, a Level 3 change foot camel, received one +3, the maximum Grade of Execution, as did his following element, the triple Lutz. Then came three Level 4 moves: a flying sit spin, straight line steps and his final spin, a change foot combination. The spins each received a single +3 (from different judges), and the steps were so good, they received +3s from five judges, with the other four awarding +2. He also received a ten for his Interpretation in the component marks. His component marks ranged down to three 8.00s.
Chan said that getting ready for this Olympic season was very different from what he’s done in the past. “I really blacked out a lot of dates, I didn't want to travel anywhere for competitions or for shows, or anything like that. I really wanted just to spend a good chunk of time in Detroit to train, and not be continually flying off to another country to give shows. I’ve talked to other athletes and they say the Olympic medals are won on the preparation in the year before, and I think about that every day.”
2. SP 80.82 (43.61+38.21 -1) Nobunari Oda, the 2009 Japanese champion, who skated third, to John Barry’s “Cotton Club”, fell on his Quad toe loop, but subsequently soared through a triple Axel, which, like Chan’s, got straight +2s. The 26-year-old received a Level 2, one lower than Chan, for his change foot camel spin. His flying sit spin was Level 3, as were his steps. Those were also one lower than Chan’s. Oda had only one Level 4, which came for his final spin. The difference between second and third was only 0.42.
3. SP 80.40 (39.69+40.71) Yuzuru Hanyu, an 18-year-old who will turn 19 on December 7, was skating on his hometown ice rink when the earthquake struck Sendai in 2011. He now trains with Brian Orser in Toronto. Skating last, he performed to “Parisian Walkways”, a very Blues-y number by Gary Moore. His opening quad to loop got eight -1s and a 0. He later executed only a single Lutz to triple toe loop, but his triple Axel received two of the maximum +3s, and his four Level moves all were awarded the maximum 4.
4. SP 74.58 (35.30+39.28) Jeremy Abbott, who won the U.S. title in 2009, 2010 &202, like Chan, has been criticized for leaving Colorado Springs, for a city which recently declared bankruptcy. Abbott was born in Aspen, and had trained in Colorado Springs before leaving it for the Detroit Skating Club. Both he and Chan praise the facility in Michigan, but Colorado defends themselves saying there is nothing there, that they don’t have, so it probably comes down to personal like of the available coaches. Abbott says, “Anything I had in Colorado Springs, I made sure I would also have access to in Bloomfield Hills. I know Detroit has a bad reputation but I love this city.”
Skating fourth, the now 28-year-old Abbott performed his SP to “Lilies of the Valley” from the soundtrack of the movie, “Pina”. He opened with quad toe loop, which lost a slight -0.14. However, his planned triple Lutz to triple toe loop turned into a double-double which was given unanimous -3s, and he banked only +2.50. His flying upright spin, with a head back portion, earned +0.50 over its base value for Level 4. The triple Axel at the half way stage was flawed and earned only 7.07. But the two spins and his steps were all Level 4 with positive GoEs.
5. SP 73.08 (38.56+34.52) Takahito Mura, 22, took bronze in the last Japanese championship and was eighth in the world championship. He skated to music several ice dancers have used in the past, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s “Jumpin’ Jack” and “Minnie, the Moocher”. He is coached by his father, who was a world class competitor in the 1980s. His routine was choreographed by Tom Dickson.
6. SP 72.35 (40.71+31.64) Elladj Balde, who will turn 23 on November 9, opened the mens event. He was born in Moscow, of a mother who was a figure skater. The family emigrated to Canada in 1992. Skating to BoBom by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, he opened with a quad toe loop but touched his hand down before getting airborne for a double toe loop. He banked 10.60 for this element. The triple Axel, which followed, earned an extra 0.71 but the triple Lutz lost a small -0.20. All three spins were Level 4 and his steps were Level 3.
7. SP 71.71 (35.06+36.65) Michal Brezina, the Czech Republic, skated to Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King”. He doubled his first element, meant to be a quad Salchow and received a total element score of only 0.70. But everything else was accomplished well including a triple flip to triple toe loop and a triple Axel. All three spins were Level 4 and the steps Level 3. Brezina has had a long career. He was 10th in the last Olympic Games and was 4th twice in the world championships (in 2010 & 2011).
8. SP 69.14 (33.11+36.03) Joshua Ferris, USA, is the current world junior champion, opened with a triple toe loop but combined it only with a single toe loop which earned him only 2.40. However, he brought off a good triple Axel for which he received 9.07. His triple Lutz got an extra +0.90. Two of his spins were Level 4 and the third was Level 3 as were the steps.
9. SP 68.31 37.20+31.11) Andrei Rogozine, Canada, who is now 20, skated second, opening his routine, which was set to music from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” with a triple flip to triple toe loop, but the second jump got an arrow for slight under-rotation and he banked only 7 points. His triple Axel got a full point extra so he accumulated 9.50. The triple Lutz got +0.30. All his spins were Level 4 and the steps were Level 3 all with positive GoEs.
10. SP 66.71 (32.15+36.56) Ross Miner, USA, had one of those days where you wish you hadn’t got out of bed. Skating seventh to “The Way We Were”, the 22-year-old from Watertown, MA, opened in an unusual fashion, choosing to do his step sequence first, and earned Level 3 with +0.71. He has been third twice and was second in the 2013 U.S. championships. His two trips to Worlds in Moscow and in London, Ontario, gained him 11th and 14th places. But on this Friday he fell on his first two jumps, a planned quad Salchow which received a double arrow for a downgrade to triple, and on a triple Axel, which was saddled with one arrow for slight under-rotation. All three of his spins were Level 4 with good GoEs, and the combination, set at the halfway point was a triple Lutz to triple toe loop which earned a total of 11.14 points.
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