Canadian teenage sensation Patrick Chan kicked off his figure skating season in grand style, capturing the men's title of the Skate Canada event Saturday in Ottawa.
Sitting second following Friday's short program, Chan, 17, rallied in the free skate to post a combined score of 215.45. American Ryan Bradley finished second with 212.75, and countryman Evan Lysacek took bronze at 209.27.
Chan, who became the youngest Canadian champion after upsetting outgoing world title holder Jeffrey Buttle last January, delighted the fans in his birth place with a fluid performance to music by Rachmaninov.
Judges gave the Toronto resident high marks for his artistic display, but had to deduct points for a fall during a triple Axel, and a slip on a jump combination.
"Speechless," said an elated Chan. "Really lucky. I was just thanking [the fans] for still supporting me, especially after Jeff retired, even though I didn't have the best skate. They seemed to enjoy the program and that's what I came here to do, show them the new program and hope that they enjoyed it."
Chan was only rewarded with the third-best long program, but still managed overtake Friday's leader, France's Yannick Ponsero, who fell to fourth.
"I said, down in the kiss and cry, cats have nine lives and I just used one, or I used one of my lifelines," Chan said. "I'm happy, but I'm kind of disappointed, I didn't really want it to come down like this, I wanted it to be a good ending like nationals, especially on home turf. But it's still early, I just have to keep reminding myself."
With Buttle's surprising retirement in September, the stoplight falls on Chan to keep Canada's medal hopes on the men's side alive for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Chan remains confident he can deal with the pressure, and says Grand Prix events such as Skate Canada will only make him better.
"Here was a bit of a taste of it," Chan said. "There were a lot more cameras and people wanting to talk to me, more than usual, especially now that Jeff isn't here, he usually took most of it so I didn't have to worry much about it."
Shawn Sawyer of Edmunston, N.B., surprised the men's field by winning the long program and moved up to fifth from seventh with a score of 142.36. Jeremy Ten, from Burnaby, B.C., climbed one spot from the short program to finish 10th with 169.79.
"When the score came out I couldn't believe I could get that score with that program," Sawyer said.