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Chan catches judges' attention, wins men's short

Skate Canada champ on track for second Grand Prix gold

Patrick Chan recovered well from an early fall on his quad toe loop attempt.
Patrick Chan recovered well from an early fall on his quad toe loop attempt. (Getty Images)

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By Jean-Christophe Berlot, special to icenetwork.com
(11/18/2011) - Patrick Chan of Canada won the short program of the men's event at the Trophée Eric Bompard in Paris with 84.16 points, eight points ahead of second-place Nan Song of China and almost 10 points above third-place Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic. Adam Rippon skated a beautiful program to end in fourth place, 1.36 points from the podium.

For once, the men's short program opened the Trophée Eric Bompard this Friday in Paris.

Chan was quite excited about coming back to Paris, a trophy he has won twice already, ahead of then-favorite Brian Joubert. He skated his program to Paul Desmond's "Take Five."

"It tells the story of a guy sitting alone at a bar who sees a really beautiful girl," Chan explained in fluent French. "'Look,' he tells his buddies. The whole program's goal is to try to catch the girl's attention, hoping she can join him sometime. So I do my jumps and spins and footwork and all kinds of tricks for that!"

For sure, Chan did not miss capturing the attention of the judges and the audience alike. He completely missed his quad toe loop but was able to land a perfect triple Lutz-triple toe combination at the end of his program instead. His triple Axel was also excellent. He got a Level 4 for two of his spins. His components made the difference.

Still, technical elements remain a strong motivation for Chan. "Brandon Mroz, with whom I train in Colorado, just landed a quad Lutz. This motivates me very much and I want to try something harder and do something that no one has ever done," he said.

"So why not after the Grand Prix Final?" he added with a smile.

Song, who finished third at Cup of China, skated to Requiem for a Dream and landed all his elements perfectly: quad toe-triple toe combination, triple Axel and triple Lutz. He got 76.53 points altogether and the highest technical mark of the field (44.92, compared to 41.20 points to Chan), and he remained in first place until Chan skated -- that is until the end of the competition.

"This was much better than at Cup of China," Song said. "I felt smoother in my elements and performance altogether," he admitted.

Falling short of making the podium at last worlds (he finished fourth), Brezina had promised to make this season an opportunity he would seize. His program to "Kodo Drums" was energetic, but his jumps were a bit more difficult to land. His opening triple Axel was superlative. He, however, had to double the triple toe loop of his combination. He finished third with a total of 74.32.

"The quad is planned in the short program, but it is not reliable enough at the moment," he explained later.

As expected, Rippon became one of the crowd's favorites as soon as he stepped on the ice.

"I was so excited about coming back to Paris for this competition," Rippon explained. "I really love skating here. Everybody is more laid back, and I could feel it even during practice!"

Actually, the stands in the arena were half full this morning for his practice session. The audience was ecstatic at the end of his program.

He opened his short with his trademark "Rippon Lutz," which he introduced in the same Bercy arena two seasons ago, at the Trophée Eric Bompard. His program to "Korobushko" was soon a hit in the arena, as he managed to be completely in sync with his music.

His program was solid, including a perfect triple Axel and a triple flip to triple toe combination. Both jumps of his combination were, however, downgraded, and he got only 5.10 points for it. His spins all gained Level 4.

"At the end of last season," Rippon explained, "I went to Shae-Lynn Bourne, with whom I really wanted to work. She told me that she thought of something high energy for me. Then I knew it would work right away, and I had an incredible experience with her creating that program. Also, I have had Russian coaches for several years (Rippon trained with Nikoli Morozov and Elena Sergeeva in the past), so I feel like in my element (skating to a Russian theme)", he added.

Unlike last year, when he won the European gold medal, Florent Amodio chose a rather traditional music selection to skate his short program to. His jazz routine, which he skated in a silver and pink outfit, showed his flexibility and rhythm. His body pace was, however, not enough to cover his technical flaws. His triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe were clean, but his spins were less than stellar (they got a Level 3), and he completely missed his final change foot camel spin, for which he received zero credit.

Altogether, only Song managed to land a clean quad in the short programs.

The last group of skaters entering the free tomorrow will be from five different nations (Canada, China, Czech Republic, USA and France) and three continents. Skating keeps growing.