Patrick Chan hadn't felt quite right the past few months since claiming his world championship title in spectacular fashion last spring.
So he allowed himself a bit of breather — a quick trip to Vegas to celebrate his 21st birthday — and clearly the mini-vacation did the trick.
The skating star from Toronto blew away the field — and his own world record score — to win the short program Saturday at the Canadian figure skating championships and stake his claim for his fifth senior title.
The score won't be counted as an official world record, as it's a domestic competition, but the jazzy skate to "Take Five" was, in Chan's opinion, his finest short program yet.
"It may not have been the most solid, the jumps were a little off to me, but I worked the hardest in this program and I had the finesse, I had the best of both worlds," Chan said. "Those points were deserved because I worked quite hard, it wasn't easy, it wasn't a walk in the park. …"
Chan scored 101.33 points for his program that included a clean quadruple toe loop and three triple jumps, and takes a whopping 20-point lead over Kevin Reynolds (80.81) of Coquitlam, B.C., into Sunday's free skate. Vancouver's Jeremy Ten is third with 70.81.
Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir reclaimed their Canadian title, winning with a score of 180.02 points. Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., missed most of last season — including the Canadian championships — while Virtue recovered from surgery on her legs.
Chan's 93.02 in the short program at last April's world championships will still stand as the world record, but his coach Christy Krall said in her opinion, it was clearly a world-record skate.
'I think he needed to relax and have fun and that's basically what that holiday was about.' — Coach Christy Krall on a reinvigorated Patrick Chan
"Definitely. That was fun," Krall said. "That was seamless, beautifully executed, delightfully presented. That was first class."
Chan went undefeated last year, but faltered through his Grand Prix performances in the tail-end of 2011.
Clearly something has clicked since he last competed, at the Grand Prix Final in December. Krall said he came back reinvigorated from his Vegas birthday celebration — he spent four days of playing cards and seeing shows.
"A: He turned 21, and B: he took a holiday," Krall said. "I think that was it, I think he needed to relax and have fun and that's basically what that holiday was about.
"I think he enjoyed himself thoroughly, he went to Las Vegas and had a good time, and I think that's really a critical component in his training is how he rests and how he recovers and how he rehabilitates himself. He came back a happy guy."
Chan earned a standing ovation at the Moncton Coliseum, and New Brunswick Premier David Alward came down to the media area to congratulate the young skater.
"I love coming back to nationals, this is what makes me want to come back every year," Chan said. "Even though I win by 20 points or whatever, it's coming here and getting that vibe, just that energy, when they announce my name before I've even started skating and hearing the cheer after landing the quad.
"It's just great for the soul, I guess you can say. It's a good feeling to have."