Patrick Chan showed in Victoria that he's got what it takes to be a world champion. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
New champions were crowned in three of the four disciplines at the 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships
last weekend, but it was the one repeat winner that stood above everyone else in Victoria.
From time to time, skating stars emerge who need only to be referred to by one name: Toller, Kurt, Tessa and Scott, Barb and Paul, to list a few Canadians that fit the single-moniker bill.
Well, Patrick Chan has put his name in that illustrious group, not just by winning his fourth consecutive Canadian title
, but by skating a free program
that will be remembered for a very long time. He left nothing on the table in a program designed by legendary choreographer Lori Nichol that included two quad toe jumps (one in combination with a triple toe) and some of the best skating skills, transitions and musical connections that have ever been performed.
When Patrick skates, the world is watching.
The funny thing is, I'm not surprised. Last July, I was at the Liberty summer competition near Philadelphia, and as Chan finished his short program I sent a text message to Nichol: "Congrats on a brilliant short program. World title to follow this year!"
To accomplish that, of course, Chan will have to put down the kind of programs he did at nationals, but everything he needs to win gold at worlds is there.
I didn't say that last year about Chan, and believe me, it's not something I say very often. But when I see "it" in a skater or team, I'm willing to say it. I expected Olympic gold last year for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Yu-Na Kim, and Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, and I went on the record long before the skaters took to the ice in Vancouver.
Chan's score of 197.07 for his free program in Victoria could be explained partly by the Canadian home-ice advantage (skaters typically see a bump in their marks at national championships), or maybe it's just that the quality of his elements was that good.
His program is constructed in such a way that five of the eight possible jumping elements, or "passes," happen after the halfway point, earning him an additional 10 per cent for each of those elements. Chan has always been known as a skater's skater because his ability and skills in simply skating are second to none. Couple that with beautifully complex choreography and Chan's innate musicality, and he's pretty difficult to beat on his best days, as we saw in Victoria.
Chan's overall score of 285.85, a Canadian record, on its own is not what put the rest of the world's men's skaters on notice; it was his skating. Skate of his life
Silver medallist Shawn Sawyer also had the skate of his life in Victoria, putting down two solid and competitive programs back to back, something that he has been known to struggle with. The men's bronze medallist was Joey Russell.
Ice dance had its own brand of drama, as eventual champions Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier went into the free dance with only a narrow 0.16-point lead over eventual silver medallists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. It's fair to say that these two teams are so closely matched in terms of ability that it comes down to who skates best and style preference, and the difference of 1.03 overall bears that out. In both the short and free dance it really could have gone either way
. The bronze medal went to relative newcomers, and last year's junior Canadian champions, Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam.
The ladies event was dominated by Cynthia Phaneuf, who was able to reclaim the title
that she last held in 2004 by winning both the short and free programs. Silver medallist Myriane Samson posted the second-highest free skate score of the night to claim her spot on the podium. Bronze medallist Amelie Lacoste faltered a bit in the free but held on for a medal. The dazzling Alexandra Najarro, with a breakthrough second-place finish in the short, took fourth overall.
This season's Cinderella story continued in the pairs event, with Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch delivering on all counts
and taking their first national title. They will have to watch newcomers and new Canadian silver medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who could rival Moore-Towers and Moscovitch if they skate two solid programs and not just the free. The bronze medal went to Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, who continue to delight with a captivating combination of youthful energy and solid talent.
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