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Chan returns to vintage form, gets best of Hanyu

Canadian wins title for fifth time in career; Murakami 'satisfied' with bronze
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The fans at the ENMAX Centre were treated to vintage Patrick Chan, as the three-time world champion threw down one of the best free skates of his career Saturday night. He opened his Chopin routine with his signature quad toe-triple toe and followed with seven more clean triples on his way to a segment score of 190.33 and a final tally of 271.14, earning him his fifth career Skate Canada title. -Getty Images

The suspense is over: The returning Patrick Chan got the better of Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu at 2015 Skate Canada on Saturday in their first meeting in more than a year and half.

Chan, who didn't compete last season, won the men's event over silver medalist Hanyu by a convincing 11.60 points, 271.14 to 259.54.

The Canadian flag was hoisted up between two Japanese flags, after Daisuke Murakami took the bronze medal with two really good skates. Murakami scored 252.25 points.

Hanyu finished a lowly sixth in the short program, but he was on fire in the free, landing three quads. He fell hard on a triple lutz, which was two-footed. Coach Brian Orser pounded the boards in encouragement, and Hanyu rose to the occasion. He got a standing ovation, and four people dressed up as Winnie the Pooh stood up, too. (It was Halloween, after all.)

Chan, on the other hand, landed only one quad, turning a second attempt into a triple toe loop. At every step, though, he piled up extra points with his high Grades of Execution, scoring an extra 2.29 points for his opening quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop. That element alone was worth 16.89 points. Chan received eight marks of 10 in program components, scattered through skating skills, performance and execution, choreography and interpretation.

In the free, Hanyu outscored Chan 98.35 to 95.17 in the technical aspect, but Chan exploded past Hanyu in components, 95.16 to 88.94.

Despite Hanyu's jump fireworks, Chan surpassed him in the free skate, 190.33 to 186.29.

Before Chan finished, the crowd was already on its feet, screaming. When Chan finally looked up, he covered his eyes with his hands, seemingly overwhelmed by what he had done.

Chan admitted that this competition was challenging for him and brought with it high stress. He trains alone now in Detroit, with Jeremy Abbott having left and Elladj Baldé having returned home to Montreal.

"I didn't feel good on warmup," Chan said. "I felt quite uneasy, distracted, more my thoughts than physically."

He talked with coach Kathy Johnson about how to proceed.

"I really was lost and was really scared to go out to skate," Chan said.

He decided to skate for himself.

"I happened to have a good day today," he said.

Hanyu, speaking in English, said he didn't feel too bad after his "not so good" short program.

"I believe I can do it," he said. "When I go to practice, I have a really good feeling. So I was able to do quads. My free program was not bad."

He said he felt calm and excited at the same time, and in the short wanted to skate clean. When he came out for the free skate, he felt different, more concerned about skating the way he does in practice than being clean. And that worked.

This was the first time Murakami was in first place after the short at a Grand Prix event. Add to that having to follow two world and Olympic medalists, and it was a tall order for the Japanese veteran.

"It was definitely a different situation for me," he said. "And before I went into my free program, as Patrick's scores came up, I literally could not hear [coach Frank Carroll] saying anything to me by the boards.

"So instead, I told him: 'OK, I'm going. I'm going to go.' So I did," Murakami continued. "I'm just really glad under the circumstance that I kept my composure and I did what I do in practice, and I'm very satisfied here."

Adam Rippon finished fourth with 239.69 points, saying the competition gave him a good measure of what he can do.

"It's like night and day compared to where I was here last year," said Rippon, who finished 10th at 2014 Skate Canada. "I feel like I'm on the right track." 

He under-rotated his quad lutz in the free skate, but it was a better effort than the one he gave in the short program. He said he lands the element cleanly in practice (not all the time), so he will continue to include it in his competitive program.

Rippon said, "Last year, I didn't even try [the quad lutz] in competition until nationals. I'm much further along than I was, but I still have some work to do."