Patrick Chan golden at Skate Canada
Virtue and Moir, Duhamel and Radford take top prizes
Patrick Chan knows he needs the big jumps to keep pace with the world's best skaters.
But on one night at least, it was his artistry and overall skating skills that earned him the Skate Canada International title.
Chan was debuting an ambitious program that included three quadruple jumps. He landed the first, but fell on the second, and turned the third into a triple and then held on to win with 266.95 points.
CBC's skating insider Pj Kwong offers her assessment of Canadian skaters at this weekend's event:
His fall came on the quad Salchow, a jump he learned recently.
"Good that I committed to it and rotated it. That was one of my fears going in, I was hoping I would still commit and attack it, and I did," Chan said. "I hung on, and I know it won't be this generous later in the season. It's nice but I'm also not celebrating, because I know this was a lucky strike."
Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, who beat Chan for Olympic gold in 2014, was second, falling on his quad loop, but landing two other quads. Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., took third in his first Grand Prix event in four years.
Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice dance title in their first major international event since Sochi. Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won the pairs event, while Kaetlyn Osmond took silver in the women's singles.
Chan skated to "A Journey," a musical piece written by Radford, who studied at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music.
"Whenever the music starts, I always find myself looking at the audience, to see how they're experiencing it, if people are just enthralled in it," Radford said. "I also get nervous for [Chan], I really care about how he skates and want him to skate really well."
Chan's skate left plenty of room for improvement Saturday. He landed both his triple Axels, but he downgraded four jumps over the final couple of minutes as his legs grew heavy.
"That's one challenge when you add another quad is the extra fatigue," Chan said.
And as season debuts go, he'll take it. Chan, who took 18 months off after the Sochi Olympics, said he's feeling better than he has in awhile, thinking back to his stretch of three world titles.
"I look at my career, around 2011-2012, I had a lot of attack going into my programs, into my quads, and then I missed that a bit the last two years [before his break], and now it's coming back again," Chan said. "I feel it. I'm like 'I remember this feeling."'
Just a few weeks after Chan's coaching situation was upended, he's feeling optimistic about changes. His longtime coach Kathy Johnson left him in August, and he's now working with Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein in Canton, Mich.
"Confidence and energy and just a freshness, a youthful approach to the rest of the season, and going into the Olympics," he said, summing up his feelings. "We go through cycles in our careers, and this is one of the best ones, leading into [the 2018 Olympics]. It's good how it worked out."
Reynolds, meanwhile, landed three quads in a spectacular comeback. His last few seasons have been plagued by a series of mishaps, first was ill-fitting skates and then a hip injury that required surgery.
He figured he was probably done in the sport, and enrolled at the University of British Columbia. But he eventually returned to the ice, starting slowly with single jumps, and then doubles.
"The progress was so fast, and I felt so confident with everything, that we decided to give the season a go," Reynolds said. "And one year later, if I can believe it, we're here now.
"It feels really good to be back on the Grand Prix circuit again, and to come back from my injury and to start the season off the way I did, with two strong performances here, feels great."
Strong Canadian performances in Mississauga
Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., won the ice dance with 189.06 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who took second with 188.24. Toronto's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier took the bronze (182.57).
Virtue and Moir weren't thrilled with their skate. They bobbled one element, prompting a gasp from the Hershey Centre crowd.
"For Tessa and I, it's all about the moment, creating the moment, and coming back you really realize kind of how special it is to have moments like this, to be able to skate in our home country, so we wanted to capitalize on that," Moir said. "It wasn't quite what we were looking for, but we're still happy with the skate."
Virtue summed up the week as "amazing."
"It's been such a warm welcome back to the competitive sphere," she said.
In pairs, Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., overcame a nasty fall to score 218.30 in their victory. Duhamel fell hard on their throw quad Salchow.
China's Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao claimed the silver with 202.08, while Toronto's Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch took the bronze (190.22).
Osmond, a 20-year-old from Marystown, N.L., scored 206.45 to win the women's silver, landing five triples but falling on a triple loop.
Osmond is also on the comeback trail after a gruesome broken leg knocked her out of the 2014-15 season.
Asked if she made a statement this week, she said: "It was more of a message for myself that I could come back from anything. And I want to show everyone else that it doesn't matter how many setbacks you have in life, it might take awhile but you can come back."
Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva won the women's singles title with a score of 220.65, while Japan's Satoko Miyahara was third (192.08).