Stellar free skate propels Chan to Four Continents title
Canada's Patrick Chan performed a near-flawless free skate on Saturday afternoon to win the men's competition at the Four Continents figure skating championships in Vancouver.
Skating to music by Rachmaninov, the 18-year-old Torontonian thrilled the Pacific Coliseum crowd with a silky skate that earned him a season-best score of 160.29 points. That brought Chan's total score to 249.19, protecting the lead he had built over American Evan Lysacek with his outstanding short program on Thursday night.
"The short program pretty much just built my confidence," Chan, who recorded the second highest short-program score ever under the current points system, told CBC Sports. "It really helped when I went into the long program. I felt really confident, I felt like I was at home.
"The crowd was great. They really helped."
Lysacek placed second in the free skate to finish second overall at 237.15, and Japan's Takahiko Kozuka finished third with 221.76.
Vaughn Chipeur of Calgary finished sixth — one spot higher than in the short program — with a score of 212.81, while Vancouver's Jeremy Ten rose from ninth to seventh with 207.27.
Chan's only glaring miscue was turning a planned triple Axel into a single, though he had the presence of mind to tack on a double before going on to impress the judges with his superb footwork.
Chan was looking to rebound on the international scene after a disappointing fifth at figure skating's Grand Prix final in December in South Korea. He has won Skate Canada and the Trophée Eric Bompard in Paris in addition to the national championship.
"The Grand Prix final really taught me a lot," said Chan, who botched two triple Axels in the long program there. "Here I missed the second Axel, I popped it, but right away I came back under myself and really focused as if I didn't make a mistake."
The world championships begin March 23 in Los Angeles, and Chan said he's not feeling any extra pressure now that he's one of the guys to beat.
"This is only a sport," he said. "It's not a matter of life and death."
Chan's victory boosted Canada's medal total to four at the Four Continents, one in each discipline: Joannie Rochette (women's), Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (ice dancing), and Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison (pairs) each captured silver.
The Four Continents concludes with the gala Sunday on CBCSports.ca (3 p.m. ET) and CBC-Television (8 p.m. local).
With files from the Canadian Press