Fernandez tops Chan again in Skate Canada short
Oda makes triumphant comeback, sits third; Miner struggles into eighth
|Javier Fernández is gunning for his first career Grand Prix gold medal. (Getty Images)|
In Mississauga, Ontario, in 2011, Chan rebounded in the free skate to take the title. But Brian Orser, who coaches the Spanish champion in Toronto, says a fitter Fernandez is now ready to re-write the script.
"Actually, and I take a lot of pleasure in saying this, he really only has to do his average," Orser said. "His average is good enough. That's what I was taught: You can always count on doing your average. It's not cross your fingers and do a couple of quads.
"He's been training the quads, he's been running through the program -- that's different for him. He doesn't like doing run-throughs, but that's the way I work, that's the way Tracy [Wilson] works, that's the way David [Wilson] works. So he's getting it, he's pushing through. He's in better physical shape."
Fernandez opened his short to the flamenco "Farrucas" with an easy-looking quadruple toe loop that gained three +3 grades of execution (GOEs) from the judging panel and banked 12.01 points. He followed with a strong triple Axel before faltering on his sometime-nemesis, the triple Lutz-triple toe combination. The technical panel assessed an edge call, and he also slightly over-rotated the toe.
His spins were solid, if not spectacular, and his steps gained Level 4. It added up to 85.87, a new personal best.
"I just have to wait [until tomorrow], work hard and fight to keep the same position," Fernandez, 21, said.
Fernandez will include three quads -- two toes and a Salchow -- in his free, choreographed by David Wilson to a Charlie Chaplin medley.
"There is a lot of content," Orser said. "I think we hit kind of a home run with both programs this year. They're different from each other -- the costumes are different, they show the versatility in his skating, they show off his character."
Chan's otherwise sublime performance to Rachmaninoff's "Elegie in E-Flat Minor" was marred by his reduction of a planned quad toe-triple toe combination into a triple-triple, as well as putting a hand down on a sloppy landing of a triple Axel. The technical mistakes cost him at least seven or eight points, but program component scores ranging from 8.0-9.5 helped keep him 3.35 points off the lead.
Despite his unquestioned status as the world's top-ranked skater, and even despite skating in his home country, Chan told reporters he felt intimidated, a word he also used on a media conference call last week to describe his feelings at the Japan Open early this month, where he placed sixth (and last) in a free skate-only event.
"The program was great. I really enjoyed skating it," Chan, 21, said. "I went out there, I got my starting position and I felt good, I felt confident. I thought I had a winning program.
"Jumps are jumps. They work in the six-minute warm-up, they were really great, but it's so different doing it with six other guys in the warm-up and being all alone on the ice. It's intimidating. I don't think I've been competing just enough to be comfortable with that.
"Other times I've been, I guess, partly lucky and partly just more confident and comfortable. But I'm very happy with the way the program laid out in between the jumps. The spins, the footwork -- everything was good quality."
Chan's remarks seem to indicate he has lost a bit of his swagger, although he added he and his coaches think they have pinpointed what caused him to pop his usually reliable quad toe into a triple.
"It's the first time I've ever popped a quad [in competition]," he said. "Kathy [Johnson] and I talked about it, and I think there is just a lack of speed going into the quad ... Even in Colorado [Springs] practicing, Eddie [Shipstad] and Kathy have always been saying, 'More speed, more speed,' because once I have the speed into the quad, the rest -- the rhythm, the free leg, stepping, jumping -- all unfold on their own. At least I can find the mistake and I can fix it."
Japan's Nobunari Oda, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, made a fine comeback to Grand Prix skating with an inspired showing to Michael Kamen's "New Moon in the Old Arm's Moon" that opened with a stellar quad toe-triple toe. Although Oda badly two-footed the landing of his triple Axel, he gained Level 4 on all three of his spins and his step sequence, and is just 0.38 behind Chan.
"I really focused on my quad, and I did it, so I am very happy," said the 25-year-old Oda, who trains mainly in Barrie, Ontario, under Lee Barkell. "My coach always tells me, 'Stay away from the boards,' and I didn't crash, so I think that's OK."
Skating to "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini," U.S. bronze medalist Ross Miner made a solid attempt at a quad Salchow, rotating the jump before turning out of it, and landed his triple Axel. But he fell on an easier (for him) jump element, an intended triple Lutz-triple toe combination, and sits eight with 69.41 points.
"It was a little bit of lack of focus; I thought I was closer to the boards than I was," Miner, 21, said. "That was sort of something I'm not super proud of, but I've been doing it in practice and training it very well, so tomorrow is a new day."