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Chan is golden at Skate Canada in Ottawa

Americans Bradley, Lysacek take silver and bronze

Patrick Chan earned his second career Grand Prix gold medal in Ottawa.
Patrick Chan earned his second career Grand Prix gold medal in Ottawa. (Getty Images)

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By Laurie Nealin, special to icenetwork.com
(11/01/2008) - The gold was his for the taking, but Frenchman Yannick Ponsero let it slip through his fingers. Canada's Patrick Chan stepped up and caught it.

Last out of the gate as the first-round leader, Ponsero succumbed to the pressure at the HomeSense Skate Canada International. He tumbled on his opening quadruple jump and, ultimately, fell off the podium. His free skate, marred by several miscues on other jumps, was ranked just sixth best, and he settled for fourth overall.

Chan, 17, Canada's youngest-ever national champion, had his own issues with jumps, particularly with a triple Lutz that completely failed to launch, but his complete package of quality elements and sublime choreography allowed him to move to the top of the leaderboard with 215.45 points.

The U.S. men - Ryan Bradley (212.75) and Evan Lysacek (209.27) -- took silver and bronze, respectively. Bradley actually outscored Chan in the long program, but the Canadian's five-point lead coming in was enough to keep him on top. Lysacek was fourth in the free skate.

Chan needed few words to describe his reaction to his come-from-behind win. "Speechless. Really lucky. Cats have nine lives, and I just used one," said Chan, who ranked ninth in his senior world championship debut last March.

Performing to a Rachmaninov cello sonata and piano concerto, Chan opened with a triple Axel, but his hand brushed the ice on the landing. The triple flip-triple toe loop combo that followed was picture perfect. Chan's second triple Axel ended in a fall, but he kept the performance going strong until it came time for his Lutz.

Chan's toe pick slipped as he planted it for take-off, and the jump went nowhere. He was credited with a single Lutz worth 0.46 points. Chan's huge component scores for the quality of his skating skills, transitions, and performance countered his shortfall in technical points.

"I'm happy, but, at the same time, I'm kind of disappointed. I didn't want it to come down like this. I really wanted it to be as good an ending as nationals, especially on home turf," Chan said in reference to his surprise win over Jeff Buttle last season.

"It's pretty obvious it was not the program I really wanted to skate, but it's early in the season ... All I can say is I might not be so lucky next time. I have to make up for it at my next Grand Prix, skate a better long program," said Chan, who is coached by Don Laws, Scott Hamilton's former mentor.

Looking ahead to his next assignment at the Trophée Eric Bompard, Chan said, "Confidence-wise, I don't have to worry about the components [scores]. I can really focus on the technical. Artistic-wise, I will do it the same way I did here, except with the jumps landed properly."

Bradley, who will turn 25 this month, described himself as a late bloomer and Chan as "a super-talented kid."

Reflecting on his performance, Bradley said, "It's something new for me to do this so early on. I'm kind of known for struggling early in the year, then coming through and being strong at nationals. Last year, it kind of haunted me because they kind of wrote me off for the world team before I even got to nationals.

"I vowed at the end of last season not to let that happen again and to be as strong as I can be as early as I can be," said Bradley, who also competes next in Paris.

Bradley nailed every jump in his entertaining Latin-themed routine, including a rock-solid quadruple toe loop to open.

"I kept thinking, 'Holy! When's it [the mistake] gonna come?' When I hit that last jump, it was like 'Oh, wow! There's nothing else that I can miss,'" said Bradley, who was excited to be on the Grand Prix medal podium for the first time.

"Confidence," said Bradley, who was 15th at his last appearance at the world championships in 2007, when asked what he will take home from this competition.

Lysacek, a two-time U.S. national champion who also claimed the bronze medal at Skate America last week, said he felt more comfortable with the performance of his "Rhapsody in Blue" program here in Ottawa, despite his step sequences and a spin being scored at Level 3 difficulty. The step sequence is an improvement over the Level 2s he garnered at Skate America, but the final combination spin fell from a Level 4 last week to a 3 in Canada. Downgrades on his triple Axel in the jump combination and on a triple loop also cost him dearly.

"I was happy today. It took some fight to get out and get through that performance and stay on my feet for all of the elements, but most of all I really like the music, the program," said the two-time world bronze medalist, who has decided to forgo attempting a quad for the time being.

"I think it's a strong start. Obviously, I have my work cut out for me. My coach and I have our work cut out for us for the rest of the season, but I think we have a good idea what to work on," Lysacek added.

The surprise winner of the long program was Canada's Shawn Sawyer, who managed that feat even without executing a clean triple Axel. His was downgraded to a double and was two-footed, but all his other elements were superb and his performance top notch. Sawyer, fifth last week at Skate America, was so far back in the short, however, that his segment win could only move him from seventh to another fifth-place result.

In his first season and first event in senior company, the U.S. team's third man, Brandon Mroz, finished in seventh place and had the distinction of being just one of three men to get credit for a quadruple jump, although he did have to use his hand to steady the landing.