Nam Nguyen was speaking to reporters after Saturday's victory at the Canadian figure skating championships when three-time world champion Patrick Chan popped over briefly to shake Nguyen's hand.
"That was the best buddy," Chan said. "Good job."
Chan has dominated men's singles skating for years, winning the past seven national titles, but Saturday night the 16-year-old Nguyen announced his arrival with a virtually flawless performance, clobbering the rest of the field by more than 30 points.
"I think it's a huge honour that people say that, 'The next Patrick Chan,"' Nguyen said. "But I don't know if I would call myself that anymore, because we're at the same level now, right? I'm his competitor."
The Toronto skater captured his first senior men's title to complete a sweep of national crowns — he previously won juvenile, pre-novice, novice and junior titles.
"I was dreaming of this since I was eight years old, after I won the juvenile title," Nguyen said. "And it's really cool because I won every national title starting from juvenile up to senior, and I don't know if anyone has ever done that before."
Nguyen opened with a beautiful quad Salchow and then reeled off eight triple jumps to score 256.88 overall points, beating a field that was missing Chan. The three-time world champion is taking the season off to contemplate his future.
Jeremy Ten of Vancouver claimed silver with 222.58, edging Liam Firus of North Vancouver by a mere 0.18 of a point.
Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., captured their fourth Canadian pairs title with a national record performance. The duo scored 150.69 and a total 230.19, both Canadian championship records.
Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto were second with 187.85, while Julianne Seguin of Longueuil, Que. and Charlie Bilodeau of Notre-Dame-du-Portage, Que., winners of this season's junior Grand Prix Final, were third with 181.43.
Earlier, Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., captured her first senior women's title and secured her spot on the world team.
The championships determine the team for the world championships in March in Shanghai. Canada can send two men's singles and two women's singles skaters, and three teams in both ice dance and pairs.
Nguyen was 12th at last year's world championships and said having some experience under his belt will help.
"Oh yeah. But to be honest, I feel like going to nationals here was a lot more pressure than for worlds," he said. "So I'm really excited and I'm not really nervous at all going into worlds."
Ten, meanwhile, was overwhelmed by emotion when his scores were shown on the screen. He called this a "bonus season," only deciding in June that he would compete one last year and then call it quits on a career that has been marred by injuries and disappointment.
"My whole world just went like. . . I thought I had misheard it, and then I saw the screen, I just dropped everything. I think I threw my water bottle at one point, and I forgot I was on TV, and then I completely lost all bodily function," Ten said, laughing. "At least I didn't pee myself, that was good."
The 17-year-old Daleman had a near-flawless performance to win gold with 186.02 points and beat a field that was missing defending champion Kaetlyn Osmond.
Daleman landed five triple jumps in her skate to "En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor," to finish ahead of Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont. Chartrand scored 184.24 and then burst into tears of joy while speaking with reporters afterwards.