Chan chasing third-straight title
LONDON, Ont.—Canada’s Patrick Chan took a huge leap of faith that spanned several American states—and it paid off with a world-record performance and a strong first step toward a third-consecutive world figure skating title.
The 22-year-old from Toronto shattered the world record in winning the short program at the world championships yesterday, three weeks after he packed up and moved from Colorado to Detroit in a seemingly-desperate measure to turn his shaky season around.
“I started from scratch with a clear mind and a clear body—and I think that was a good choice,” Chan said.
Chan scored 98.37 points for his elegant performance to music by Rachmaninov, landing a huge quad toe loop in a combination, followed by a clean triple Axel.
He had the crowd at Budweiser Gardens on its feet long before he finished the final turn of his last spin.
“Exhilirating,” enthused Chan, who shook his fists and then wiped eyes in gleeful disbelief.
“I got into my last spin and there was this rush of tingling, just a cold rush through my body,” he recalled.
“It was amazing, you can only feel that once in a lifetime . . . or if you’re going to jump off a building.”
A victory this week would make Chan the first male skater to win three in a row since Russian Alexei Yagudin (1998-2000).
Denis Ten of Kazakhstan heads into tomorrow’s free skate in second with 91.56 points.
Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., the perennial national runner-up to Chan, is third with 85.16.
One of the world’s biggest jumpers, Reynolds was the only skater in the field to do two quads—the second one with a wobbly landing—scoring 85.16 points.
Earlier in the day, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford laid down a pairs short program good enough to leave the Canadians in second place.
For them, it’s the highlight thus far of a partnership just three years in the making.
“I felt sick to my stomach all day,” Duhamel said through a wide grin. “We were so nervous all morning, we put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves.
“Our whole lives have been geared toward being on the podium, but moreso in the last year,” she added.
Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., scored 73.61 points for their virtually flawless skate to music from La Boheme.
Duhamel left the Budweiser Gardens crowd laughing at her exuberant celebration at centre ice.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia are the leaders, scoring 75.84 for their sultry skate to music from “The Godfather.”
Four-time world champs Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany scored 73.47 for an uninspiring performance to leave them third.
Duhamel and Radford, who teamed up three years ago, were fifth at last year’s world championships in Nice, France, and said that every day since they’d been aiming at the podium in London.
“We had so much pressure, I felt so sick,” Duhamel admitted. “I thought: ‘What if I go to jump and my legs just don’t do it?’
“I felt like I was just going to collapse,” she added. “But soon as the music started, it felt great.”
In pairs, no Canadian twosome has been on the world podium since Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison won bronze in 2008.
Canada hasn’t had two teams in the top five since 1986.
If the final results of Canada’s pairs teams total 13 or better, Canada will get a full slate of three berths in pairs at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“I think it’s so great for Canadian skating,” Duhamel said. “There’s so many pairs at home waiting to see if we’re going to get them a spot.
“So that’s definitely another one of our goals.”