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.
Javier Fernández is gunning for his first career Grand Prix gold medal. (Getty Images)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(10/27/2012) - For the second consecutive season, jumping mistakes by Patrick Chan helped Javier Fernandez edge the two-time Canadian world champion in the short program at his home country Grand Prix.

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."