by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
The level of the men’s competition at Skate Canada was much higher than at Skate America, but nevertheless some skaters made many mistakes.
Nathan Chen skated much better than a week before at Skate America. He won the competition with 307.18 points and therefore qualified for the Grand Prix Final which is planned for December in Osaka, Japan. He opened the short program (106.72 points) with a good quad Lutz, followed by a clean triple Axel and a very good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop. Spins and steps were outstanding and his components had an average of 9.3. He commented, “I had pretty tough skates at Skate America. I'm happy to have an opportunity right off the bat to give myself another shot and I'm much happier with how today went. Between Skate America and Skate Canada I came to Canada early and I was here for the past couple of days. It was really nice to be able to skate here and to kind of get my feet under me right after competition. I don't know if it is going to be successful or not, but at least I want that next opportunity to try again.”
During the free program, and on the morning practice before the free program, coach Rafael Arutunian was sitting in the stands of the spectators. He had been banned from coaching him because after the short program he had walked a bit outside of the bubble towards the stands of the spectators as he wanted to watch the ice dance competition.
Arutunian said he left the bubble completely unintentionally because the ISU had forgotten to put a sign saying that you were not allowed to pass this way. Later the ISU put a sign in this place, but it was too late for him and he was not allowed to re-enter and even had to change his hotel room.
He said, “I am angry and disappointed. I definitely want an apology from them (ISU). What I don’t understand is people tried to make me guilty for going the wrong direction when there was nothing telling me which way to go.” Arutunian thanked Skate Canada for finding a driver to get him to the PCR test. So he watched the morning practice and the competition from the stands and phoned his student. Later Chen said that this had not affected him for the free program. “What went down was appropriate. It is reasonable to adhere to the bubble protocol to keep us all safe, which is the objective of this bubble. That being said, I am glad that he was still able to be in the arena tonight."
In the free Mozart program, Chen began with a good quad Salchow, followed by a triple Lutz and a very good combination of quad flip and triple toe loop. Two quad toe loops came later, the second one a bit shaky. All other elements were excellent. The Choreographic Sequence was outstanding and was awarded seven GOEs of +5.
“I definitely did have better outings here than I did in Skate America“, Chen remarked. “So I think this is a good step forward. In all the competitions I want to push myself a little bit forward, The programs weren't perfect but overall I'm happy with where I am this season and looking forward to going back and trying to clean things up.”
Jason Brown won the silver medal with 259.55 points. His spins and steps in the short program to “Sinnerman“ by Jazz and Blues singer Nina Simone were even a bit better and more elegant than those of Chen, he got some GOEs of +5 for four different elements, also for the outstanding triple flip. But his combination was “only“ triple Lutz and triple toe loop and his triple Axel was a quarter under-rotated (q). He explained, “I'm pleased with my short program today. I keep gaining more confidence with the program as the season goes on. There are still points left on the table that I am determined to grab. I'm pleased, but also hungry for more.”
The first element in his emotional free program to the famous soundtrack of “Schindler’s List“ was a quad Salchow which was landed on two feet and downgraded, followed by a fall on the first triple Axel. Most other elements like the second triple Axel were at least good, spins and steps even outstanding again. The Choreo steps had eight GOEs of +5. His interpretation was outstanding, his components were around 9.0. “Overall, I am a little disappointed with my free skate today“, he commented. “The Grand Prix season is all about the opportunity to learn, to figure out what works, what doesn't and use it as a platform moving forward.”
18-year old Evgeni Semenenko from Russia, eighth at his World Championships debut in March 2021, won a surprising bronze medal with 256.01 points. In the short program to “What Is it About Her“ by Nadim Naaman, the student of Alexei Mishin performed a good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, but almost fell on the quad Salchow. With the second best free program to the soundtrack of “The Master and Margarita,“ he could move up from fifth to third place. He started with two good quad toe loops and one so-so quad Salchow. Five triple jumps were good, but he stepped out of the second triple Axel. He said, “I think I skated well. This is my Grand Prix debut. It is a big honor for me to skate with such great athletes as Nathan Chen.”
The second Russian skater Makar Ignatov finished on fourth place, earning 244.17 points. In his short program, he had a good quad loop and an excellent combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop. In the free, he hell on the quad loop, but did a quad Salchow and a quad toe loop.
Keegan Messing from Canada ended fifth with 238.34 points. After the short program with an excellent combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop and a shaky triple Axel he had been third, but dropped to fifth position after performing only the tenth best free program with four mistakes in jumps. Morisi Kvitelashvili from Georgia came sixth with 232.87 points after being last in the short program when he popped his Axel and made two more mistakes. But with two successful quads in the free program he could move up six places.
Sota Yamamoto from Japan placed seventh with 225.74 points after performing a clean short program with a good quad toe loop and a free program with seven triples, but he popped the first quad toe loop and fell on the second one. Alexander Samarin from Russia is eighth, earning 224.20 points after a clean combination of quad Lutz and double toe loop, but also a bad triple toe loop (which was planned quadruple) in the short program. He began his free program with a very good combination of quad Lutz and triple toe loop, but had three serious errors later. Conrad Orzel from Canada sits ninth with 222.75 points. He showed a short program with a clean quad salchow, but almost fell on the quad toe loop. Two quad toe loops in his free program were very good, but he went down on the quad Salchow.
Keiji Tanaka from Japan finished on tenth position with 222.20 points. In his short program he had a clean quad Salchow, but his Axel was only double and his combination only triple flip and double toe loop. In his free program he went down on the quad Salchow and doubled two more jumps. U.S. Junior World champion Tomoki Hiwatashi of Colorado Springs is 11th with 221.77 points after making two mistakes on his quads in the short program and popping two jumps in the free program. His two quad toe loops were almost clean, however. Roman Sadovsky from Canada ended up 12th and last with 217.73 points after making two mistakes in the short and four in the long program.