Chan stick­ing to his plan at worlds

Cana­dian’s sin­gle-quad short good for third

National Post (National Edition) - - SPORTS - LORI EWING

HELSINKI • Canada’s Pa­trick Chan made his one quadru­ple jump a big one, his feet nearly clear­ing the top of the boards at Hartwell Arena.

The three-time world cham­pion sat third af­ter Thurs­day’s men’s short pro­gram at the World Fig­ure Skat­ing Cham­pi­onships, plant­ing him­self in podium con­tention with the text­book skills and gor­geous ex­e­cu­tion that once made him the world’s best. Plus just one quad. “I was try­ing to stick to my plan,” Chan said. “I’m sit­ting (at the post-skate news con­fer­ence) with two guys who have two quads in their short pro­gram and I’m the only guy who was do­ing one.

“I found out this en­tire sea­son that I al­most psych my­self out by just see­ing and ac­knowl­edg­ing what they’re do­ing and then for­get­ting what I need to do ... My whole goal this year was to try and chal­lenge my­self just to stay in my own world and know that I be­long in this group of men and not get too dis­cour­aged.”

De­fend­ing cham­pion Javier Fer­nan­dez of Spain scored 109.05 to win the short pro­gram, while Ja­pan’s Shoma Uno (104.86) was sec­ond. Each had a pair of clean quads.

Kevin Reynolds of Co­quit­lam, B.C., landed both of his quads cleanly to fin­ish 12th with a score of 84.44.

Later Thurs­day, two-time world cham­pi­ons Eric Rad­ford and Mea­gan Duhamel held on to fin­ish sev­enth in pairs com­pe­ti­tion. Rad­ford bat­tled through an in­jury as the duo fin­ished with 206.06 points for their shaky pro­gram to the French song Non, je ne re­grette rien.

Canada’s Lubov Ilyushechk­ina and Dy­lan Moscov­itch fin­ished sixth, and the com­bined re­sults from the two teams en­sured Canada would be able to send three pairs teams to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

China’s Sui Wen­jing and Han Cong won gold with 232.06, while Ger­many’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Mas­sot were sec­ond (230.30), and Rus­sia’s Ev­ge­nia Tarasova and Vladimir Moro­zov took the bronze (219.03).

In the men’s event, skat­ing to the Bea­tles’ Dear Pru­dence and Black­bird, Chan opened with his huge text­book quadru­ple toe loop-triple toe loop com­bi­na­tion fol­lowed by a triple Axel to score 102.13, his first time crack­ing the 100-point bar­rier.

“I was able to hit over 100 with one quad, so clearly it comes from the marks other than the jumps,” Chan said. “That’s the high­light for me to­day, that I was able to do that at an ISU (In­ter­na­tional Skat­ing Union) event fi­nally.”

A de­bate has raged for years over the four-rev­o­lu­tion jumps and their place in men’s skat­ing, and this year’s emer­gence of teenage stars such as Amer­i­can Nathan Chen and China’s Jin Boyang — who learn new quad jumps the way kids take to new tech­nol­ogy — has taken it to new heights.

Af­ter his sil­ver medal at the Sochi Olympics, the 26-year-old Chan re­turned from a one-year hia­tus to a com­pletely al­tered land­scape.

These are the first world cham­pi­onships that have seen five dif­fer­ent quads — Lutz, loop, toe loop, flip, and Sal­chow. The sixth would be the quad Axel, which no one has done.

Chan found him­self play­ing catchup. The nine-time Cana­dian cham­pion hoped his su­pe­rior skat­ing skills could keep him in con­tention.

“I felt a bit of an un­der­dog ever since my come­back year be­cause of how the sport has changed so quickly in such a short time,” said Chan. “I have to re­mind my­self: what are my strengths? Be­cause I am in a whole dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion, a whole dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tion of skaters than I was when I won my first world ti­tle.

“I have to re­mem­ber and re­mind my­self of the lit­tle vic­to­ries. That’s the only way I can hang with these guys.”

Fer­nan­dez, who like Chan is an ex­cel­lent all-around skater, was asked about the quad is­sue in the post-skate news con­fer­ence.

“I think you just came up with the ques­tion of the year,” Fer­nan­dez said, prompt­ing laugh­ter. “When you see the judges re­al­ize what is good skat­ing, or good tran­si­tions, or good in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and they value that ... it doesn’t mat­ter how many quads you do in the pro­gram, I think it’s the right thing to do. And if you can cre­ate great el­e­ments with great skat­ing, then you’re go­ing to be world cham­pion if you skate amaz­ing.

“But if you do great jumps, but you don’t have the skat­ing, you should not be there. If we lose some­thing that is fig­ure skat­ing, then we’re go­ing to lose every­thing. So, I think I can say watch­ing Pa­trick, he only has one quad, ev­ery­body knows in this room how good Pa­trick Chan is skat­ing. I can say it a thou­sand times.

“And when he gets it, when he gets a re­ward ev­ery­one is happy be­cause it’s what it’s sup­posed to be. It’s fair.”

His re­sponse earned ap­plause from the in­ter­na­tional me­dia and a grate­ful pat on the back and smile from Chan.

Still, to be in con­tention for an Olympic medal next year, Chan’s coach Ma­rina Zoueva said they will work this sum­mer on adding a sec­ond quad to the short pro­gram.

The coach, with whom Chan be­gan work­ing this past fall, said the dif­fer­ence in skat­ing skills be­tween Fer­nan­dez and Chan and the rest of the field was ob­vi­ous Thurs­day. She chalked it up to ex­pe­ri­ence and ma­tu­rity.

“That be­comes the per­for­mance. They not just do jumps, they per­form the jump,” she said. “They not just do the spin, they per­form the spin. They not just do the move­ment, they per­form the move­ment. That’s why per­for­mance level also high.”

Quads will be an even big­ger fac­tor in Satur­day’s long pro­gram. Chan has three in his long pro­gram, but has never landed all three. Olympic cham­pion Yuzuru Hanyu has five. There’s talk Chen could at­tempt a whop­ping six.

Nine-time Cana­dian cham­pion Pa­trick Chan com­petes in the men’s short pro­gram at the world fig­ure skat­ing cham­pi­onships in Helsinki on Thurs­day. Chan is in strik­ing dis­tance head­ing into Satur­day’s free-skate fi­nal. JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP / GETTY IM­AGES

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