Ice Network

Chan gains confidence from winning short program

Japan's Mura, Canada's Reynolds in medal positions; Americans struggle
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Patrick Chan's performance in the short program helped him earn a sizable lead entering the free skate. -Getty Images

In a men's short program event filled with surprises and tumbles, Patrick Chan overcame a fall on his old nemesis, the triple axel, to lead the field at Skate Canada by nearly nine points. Yuzura Hanyu, the favorite for gold, is mired in fourth place, almost 11 points off the lead.

Apart from the fall, Chan's short -- choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo to a lyrical Beatles medley including "Blackbird" and "Dear Prudence" -- was smooth as silk and fast as liquid mercury. He opened it with a fine quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination toe, landed a passable triple lutz, and looked crisp and compelling in his steps and spins. The program went by in a flash and earned 90.56 points.

"The [fall], I think, was due to managing that energy from the quad triple and going into the axel," Chan said. "Axel is a jump where I need to be patient, and when you're rattled with energy, it's hard to be patient.

"The rest of the program, though, I was very happy with," he continued. "The footwork had no bobbles in it, and sometimes I have those little moments."

Chan, who moved from the Detroit Skating Club to train in Canton, Michigan, early this summer, credited new coaches Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein with helping him rebuild his confidence after a disappointing fifth-place finish at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships, although he acknowledged the job was far from done.

"It's just funny: Results don't mean anything; they don't give you more confidence from within," he said. "How to get it, I don't know, that's what I'm trying to get a hold of, and Marina is the right person (to help). She's so supportive and on my side."

"One thing she always tells me is people are here to enjoy your skating, not to add any more additional pressure or expectations," Chan continued. "That's awesome, because I can bring something so different to skating, a different kind of energy and quality of skating that people really appreciate."

Japanese bronze medalist Takahito Mura sits second after a flashy flamenco short that opened with a poorly landed quad toe, followed by a brilliant triple axel done directly out of steps. Mura's triple lutz-triple toe loop combination was also solid, but two of his spins and steps rated just Level 2. He enters Saturday's free skate with 81.24 points.

At a press conference following the event, a dour Mura had nothing but regrets, despite his medal position.

"This was my worst short program in recent times," he said through an interpreter. "The spins and steps, all the levels were very low, and the speed was very slow. I am quite mad at myself."

At 2010 Skate Canada, Kevin Reynolds became the first man to hit two quadruple jumps -- toe loop and salchow -- in a short program. He repeated the feat here in a charming, fast-paced routine to Finnish folk songs, although the technical panel deemed his quadruple salchow, done in combination with a triple toe, to be under-rotated. He sits third with 80.57 points.

"I concentrated and skated the best I could, and overall, I'm feeling very happy with my performance," Reynolds said.

If Hanyu's position sounds familiar, it should. Last season at Skate Canada, he sat sixth after the short, more than seven points behind the leader, before mounting a charge in the free skate and winning silver behind Chan.

Japan's Olympic champion has his work cut out for him here after falling to his knees landing a downgraded quad loop, and then faltering on the landing of a quad salchow in his short, choreographed by David Wilson to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy."

The two U.S. competitors, Ross Miner and Grant Hochstein, also had short programs to forget.

Skating to Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind," Miner popped his triple axel into a single and reduced an intended triple lutz-triple toe combination to a triple-double. He sits 11th with 63.92 points.

"I've been skating really well, doing a bunch of good programs, and I just need to commit and show my stuff, because that's not it," Miner said. "I have to put it out there when it counts."

Hochstein, 10th in the world last season, fell on a quad toe and popped an intended triple lutz into a single. He is 12th with 60.20 points.

"That's the first quad in the short I've missed internationally this year," Hochstein said. "The lutz was kind of stupid. I think I was focused; I just tapped and was already ahead of myself. It has never happened before, and it will never happen again."