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2015 Skate Canada: Chan Beats Hanyu in Men's Event

by Tatjana Flada

Patrick Chan flies high in Men's event



The big story for Skate Canada was the matchup between Patrick Chan and Yuzuru HanyuIn the short, however, both stars disappointed.

 Chan, who had sat out the past season and therefore had less world ranking points, skated in the first short program warm up group. Performing to “Mack the Knife” in a version by Michael Buble, he started with a quad-triple toe loop combination, but the triple was bit wobbly. The three-time World Champion crashed on his triple Axel and, even worse, he doubled the Lutz.

 “This program is so challenging. I’m walking a fine line between highly difficult transitions and character. When you’re adding more stuff like that it becomes more challenging and it makes the jumps harder. Today it got out of my grasp,” the Olympic silver medalist explained.

The media rushed to the mixed zone as most of them believed Chan wouldn’t place high enough to make it to the post-event press conference. He did in the end, but only because almost everyone else made mistakes as well.

 Hanyu for example popped his planned quad toe loop into a double. His Axel was good, but then he reduced his combination to triple Lutz-double toe loop, which cost him a lot. The combination was not valid, received zero points, because you cannot repeat a jump (here the double toe) in the short program.

 Skating to last year’s Chopin piece, the Olympic Champion was ranked as low as sixth, but he realized that he still could catch up. “I don’t understand what happened. I will go back and discuss with my team tonight.  I’m sure there were things I probably didn’t realize. On positive note, there is only a difference of 7 or 8 points to the top skaters.  I will take this as another learning experience,” the 2014 World Champion said. Hanyu explained later that he was not aware of the rule that you cannot repeat the same jump.

Daisuke Murakami stumbled out of the quad Salchow, but he landed a triple Axel and a rarely seen triple Lutz-triple loop combination to take a narrow lead over Chan and Adam Rippon.

“It was definitely not one of my best skates, but I’m glad that I fought through. It was actually the first time I tried the triple Lutz-triple loop in the second half. I’m really satisfied with how I didn’t give up after the quad that I made an error on,” Murakami said.

The only clean short was delivered by 16-year-old Alexander Petrov of Russia, who debuted at the senior Grand Prix. He didn’t go for a quad, but his triples were clean and of nice quality.

The men probably had a good sleep, because they returned in better shape the next day. Chan put out a flawless program that featured a quad-triple toe llop combination, triple Axel and six more triples as well as exquisite spins, footwork and transitions to a Chopin medley. The judges rewarded him with a total of eight perfect 10.00 for the components skating skills, performance, choreography and interpretation.

 The only glitch, you may say, came when he tripled the second planned quad. Interesting enough, Patrick admitted that he had not felt good on the warm-up.

 “It was a high stress, challenging competition for me. I didn’t feel good on the six minutes warm up. I felt quite uneasy and distracted, more in my thoughts than physically. So when I was waiting for my turn to go on, I was lucky to have Kathy (Johnson, coach). I could really just talk about what was going through my mind and how to proceed, because I was really lost and scared to go out and skate. Talked it through and stepped on the ice, and really skated with no thought of what is around and who is watching,” Chan shared.

Skating to the Japanese movie soundtrack “Seimei,” Hanyu nailed a quad Salchow, quad toe loop, two triple Axels (one of them in a sequence with a triple Salchow). He touched down with his hand on the third quad (another toe loop – in combination with a double toe loop) and he fell on a triple Lutz, but overall it was a strong comeback.

Yuzuru’s technical score was three points higher than Patrick’s, but his components were about six points lower. But it was enough to move up to second place. “I’m relieved that I can finally relax.  I tried to skate exactly as how I practice every day – it didn’t need to be perfect but I just wanted to show what I do in practice. I showed where I am right now and I have to keep on improving,” the 2015 World silver medalist told the press.

Murakami gave a strong performance as well to “Anniversary” that included two quad Salchows and six triple jumps, but his score was still significantly lower than Chan’s and Hanyu’s and he slipped to third.

“At first I was disappointed that I dropped to third. But Frank (Carroll, his coach) told me that I was only beaten by two Olympic medalists and then I told myself that I did a pretty good job,” the Japanese skater said. “This was my first time sitting in first in a Grand Prix event (after the short program). Skating after two World and Olympic medalists was definitely a different situation for myself and I am glad I kept my composure,” the 2014 NHK Trophy Champion added.

Rippon went for the quad Lutz in both programs but he fell and the jump was downgraded. Most of his other elements were good, though, and his programs were well received. Adam is going for a different style with rock music in the short (“Who Wants To Live Forever” by Queen) and a Beatles Medley in the long program. Especially his free skating really got the crowd in Lethbridge going. He was ranked third in the short but dropped to fourth after the long.

Nam Nguyen of Canada turned in two solid performances. He hit a quad toe loop-triple toe loop in the short, but missed the triple Axel. In his classical long program to "Passacaglia and Fugue" by Johann Sebastian Bach, the 17-year-old landed two quad toe loops and two triple Axels to finish fifth.

Alexander Petrov skated two clean programs, without quads, but with nice, clean triples, showing off the precise technique his coach Alexei Mishin taught him. His long program is set to “Oblivion” by Astor Piazzolla, but the 16-year-old doesn’t feel that his music is too serious for him. “In this role I have to be serious and I only can have fun in the footwork. But I like my program. I have moved up to the senior level after all and I need to adapt. The depth of a program and the theme don’t depend on your age,” the skater from St. Petersburg explained.

Timothy Dolensky missed all three jumping passes in the short program but redeemed himself with a clean long and pulled up from 11th to 7th place.

Michal Brezina again had no luck with his quad Salchows in the competition, although he did them in practice and warm up and finished 8th.