When the music stopped and Patrick Chan stuck one final toe pick in the ice, the Canadian figure skater put two hands to his heart to thank the fans at Pavillon de la Jeunesse.
The 20-year-old from Toronto shrugged off the previous day's distractions and an uncharacteristic fall into the boards to win the short program at the ISU Grand Prix Final on Friday.
"It was so exciting to hear them cheer and not hear boos, I was expecting boos actually," Chan said. "For me to hear that, it gave me energy, it almost came from the ice, and I completely forgot about everything and focused on skating."
Chan scored 86.63 points for his jazzy program to Paul Desmond's "Take Five," despite a hard fall into the boards on a triple toe loop. Jeremy Abbott of the U.S. was second with 82.66 points, while Javier Fernandez of Spain was third with 81.26.
Chan caused quite a stir in Quebec City a day earlier for comments in a Reuters story that were perceived as comparing Canada unfavourably to his parents' country of China. The world champion apologized for his comments, which drew scathing criticism on the Internet.
Chan's tumble wasn't the only Canadian misstep on the day. Scott Moir uncharacteristically wound up on his backside, in what could very well cost Canada's Olympic ice dance champions the Grand Prix Final crown. His slipup, early in their rumba program, left he and partner Tessa Virtue in second place and a full five points behind the leaders heading into Sunday's free dance.
Chan, the defending Grand Prix Final champion, was happy to put the controversy behind him.
"Luckily I was still able to sleep well, I'm a deep sleeper, but I have great people around me, Skate Cnaada has been really behind me, my parents and my coach, Christy [Krall] is always great at keeping it light, completely distracting me," he said. "And I accept that it happened, and that's the best way to get rid of something, accept it happened and accept the responsibility."
Chan's fall came on a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination. He laid down a beatiful quad toe but was too close to the end of the rink for his triple, banging hard into the boards.
"I was shocked, actually I said a bad word. A four-letter word. That was the first thing I said, you could see the shock on my face, I was like 'oh my god I can't believe that happened,' " Chan said, laughing. "I kind of felt like Midori Ito, flying off the boards."
Ito fell into the cutout in the boards for the television cameras at the 1991 world championships.
Chan's left arm had several large red welts, but the Canadian, who slapped a hand to his forehead after the program, joked the only thing he hurt was his pride.