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Cha-Chan! Canadian cashes in on third world title

Kazakhstan's Ten posts best free en route to silver; Fernández ecstatic about bronze

Patrick Chan amassed 267.78 points to hold off Denis Ten for the world men's title.
Patrick Chan amassed 267.78 points to hold off Denis Ten for the world men's title. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(03/15/2013) - After the last quad had been popped and the final jump called under-rotated, Patrick Chan won his third world title at London's Budweiser Gardens on Friday night.

The 22-year-old Canadian carried a near seven-point lead into the free skate after a brilliant short program on Wednesday at the 2013 World Championships, and needed almost all of it to fend off the challenge of Kazakhstan's Denis Ten. The 19-year-old Ten, seventh in the world last season, defeated Chan in the free skate by more than five points to win silver, his country's first-ever world figure skating medal and its first ISU championships medal.

In a night full of spills, bobbles and sloppy skating, Javier Fernández rose from seventh after the short to also make history and win Spain's first-ever world medal, a bronze.

Chan, who had subpar Grand Prix events, including losses at Skate Canada and the Grand Prix Final, salvaged his season and saved his world title in the first seconds of his free to Puccini's La bohème; he banked 30.15 points with two superb quadruple toe loops, the first done in combination with a triple toe.

The reigning two-time world champion fell on his next two jumps, a triple Lutz and triple Axel, and also doubled a second intended triple Lutz.

"The program started really well; both quads were my best of the season and really helped me today because of all of the mistakes," Chan said. "Today is proof figure skating is about your overall week, and I had a great week [in practice] and a great short.

"Falling on my first Lutz, it never happens, even in training. I never have to pick myself up after I fall on that, and it was a bit of a battle."

As usual, the Canadian gained the highest program components scores (PCS) of the event: 89.28 points, some 2.12 points more than Ten's. Overall, Chan earned 169.41 for his free, a season's best. Combined with his short program score, he ended with 267.78, edging Ten by just 1.30 points.

Chan credited his early training with legendary Canadian coach Osborne Colson, who died in 2006, with instilling in him the discipline to never give up on a performance.

"I think, despite the mistakes on the jumps, your skating and the transitions and the emotions in the program shouldn't be compromised," he said. "Every day I train like that, maybe because of Mr. Colson's upbringing. He would always look at me, and I learned I had to finish every movement -- the spins, the footwork.

"My skating was strong [tonight]. Maybe that was why I was so tired. I had to push myself to keep my speed up. The jumps should not be the be-all, end-all. The program should flow, despite the mistakes."

Chan is now the first man to win three consecutive world titles since Alexei Yagudin (1998-2000). But the evening belonged to Ten, who set the ice alight with a charming, smoothly executed free skate to music from The Artist, choreographed by Lori Nichol.

The 19-year-old Kazakhstani, who has trained in Southern California under Frank Carroll since 2010, opened with a quad toe followed by a triple Axel-triple toe and a second triple Axel. The single mistake in his program was doubling an intended triple flip, and he earned 174.92 points, a personal best.

It was a stunning result for a skater who has yet to medal at a Grand Prix event and who just weeks ago placed 12th at the 2013 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Osaka, Japan.

"When I did the quad, I felt everything was going as I imagined, as I had in my plan," Ten said. "Honestly, throughout the skate, I didn't feel I did really, really well, I felt I could do better. At the same time, I am satisfied. It is the best performance of my skating career.

"I felt conditioned; I had enough strength to finish with a smile on my face. When I got the small medal after the short, I was so proud of it. Then I didn't sleep last night, mostly because I was so nervous."

Ten gave full marks to Carroll and Nichol for sustaining him through difficult early-season performances, including a ninth-place finish at Rostelecom Cup and sixth-place at Skate Canada, as well as the disappointing Four Continents.

"That wasn't me in Osaka," Ten said. "Honestly, I was very disappointed when I came back after Osaka; it was hard for me to start all over again and get fresh thoughts and pump up my motivation. At the same time, I could see my coach looking so positively for the worlds and realized the game is not over, and I realized how much I wanted to show everyone I was still playing.

"We've been practicing harder; Frank doesn't know but I was working out until 10 p.m. in my garage every night. I'm happy all of the hard work has paid off and also happy for coaches. It was hard for them to have such bad luck [at my] competitions."

Fernández, mired in seventh place after an error-prone short, placed fourth in the free and third overall with a flawed but still captivating outing of his Chaplin program, choreographed by David Wilson.

After opening with a quad toe, the European champion popped an intended quad Salchow into a double. He hit a quad Salchow in the second half of his program before popping an intended triple Lutz into a single, but also landed a solid triple loop and triple Salchow-triple flip sequence, earning 249.06 overall.

"For me, today become another goal, another dream," said Fernández, who trains under Brian Orser in Toronto. "I knew this competition was going to be even harder than Europeans, with all of the skaters, but I made it. I didn't think I was going to make it but I did.

"I'm really, really happy. I know I did some mistakes today and did some mistakes in the short program," he continued. "I was really tired at the end of season. I think I just have to keep working for the next season, the Olympics, [because] everybody is going to try to work harder than ever to be on the podium."

Orser's other top student, Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, recovered from a ninth-place short program to place third in the free and finish fourth overall with 244.99. Like all of the top finishers except Ten, he made his share of mistakes, including a poorly landed, under-rotated quad Salchow. Still, he landed a quad toe and two triple Axels, one in combination with a triple toe.

Canadian silver medalist Kevin Reynolds, third after the short, faded to fifth after three of his jumps, including two quad toes and a triple Axel, were judged under-rotated. After an error-ridden eighth-place free skate, Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, who won the Grand Prix Final last fall, placed sixth overall.

U.S. champion Max Aaron shrugged off a miss on his second quad Salchow, as well as a run-in with the boards, to place sixth in the free with the fourth-highest technical elements score of the night.

Skating to music from West Side Story choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo, Aaron landed his opening quad Salchow-double toe and then popped his second quad into a double. From there, it was clear sailing until, after landing his second triple Axel, he had his close encounter.

The former hockey player in Aaron decided to use it to his advantage.

"It was just, 'I hit the boards, oh great,' said the 21-year-old, who trains under Tom Zakrajsek in Colorado Springs, Colo. "The crowd got into it and pushed me to keep going. It's like a big hit in hockey; you hear the crowd and keep going. You feed off that, and that's what I did today."

Three Level 4 elements -- as well as six triple jumps landed in the second part of the program, gaining a 10-percent bonus -- added to Aaron's 160.16-point score, but he was most excited about his step sequence.

"I want to give all the credit to Pasquale for the entire program," he said. "I'm getting a Level 4 right now. I've never in my entire life gotten a Level 4 on a step sequence. We worked on that for hours and hours.

"The components (PCS) went up a lot from even the last event (Four Continents), which was three and a half weeks ago. I'm really happy with how the components are. I know they can keep getting higher and higher."

The event was less successful for U.S. silver medalist Ross Miner, who placed 13th in the free and 14th overall after putting his hands down on the landing of an under-rotated quad Salchow and falling on a triple Axel. The Boston skater did land another triple Axel, as well as a solid triple Lutz-triple toe combination.

"I'm a little disappointed," the 22-year-old Miner said. "Based on NHK (Trophy, where he won bronze) and nationals, I think I had the capability to be competitive with the upper end of the top 10. I think top six would have been a reasonable goal for me.

"I got a little wrapped up in that and tried a little too hard instead of focusing on doing my job. I'm going to go home and try to find my mojo again, which is what got me here in the first place."