Canada

Chan dethrones Buttle to become national champion

Patrick Chan made a stunning comeback to become the national men's champion after a strong freeskate program performance at the BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Vancouver on Saturday.

Patrick Chan made a stunning comeback to become the national men's champion after a strong freeskate program performance at the BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver on Saturday.

At the end of his performance, the teenaged upstart received a standing ovation.

"The feeling of the crowd rising was phenomenal," said Chan, 17, who becomes the youngest Canadian men's champion. "I did not expect this. This whole season has been like a dream. I'm still in a trance right now. I guess that's the beginning of a feeling of a national champion."

After defending Canadian champion Jeffrey Buttle skated a near flawless short program on Friday, Chan needed to improve on his own personal-best performance.

But the teenager from Toronto was poised and near-perfect in the long program, setting a personal best for a second straight day with a score of 159.26.

After a rough start with a shaky triple Axel, Chan settled down and continued to get stronger throughout the program.

Chan, 17, won the men's title with a combined score of 232.68.

Buttle, 25, failed to build momentum after his strong performance on Friday. The native of Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., skated last and committed a pair of costly miscues that opened the door for Chan.

Buttle was forced to step out of a triple toe loop and then fell trying to land a triple Axel. His score of 149.05 in the free program gave him a combined score of 229.85 and the men's title to Chan.

"I was really disappointed I didn't get the fourth title," said Buttle, the three-time champion. "I've won the title skating worse than that. I'll take a good skate with second place over a bad skate with a first place."

Both skaters have earned a spot on the Canadian team headed to the world championships in Sweden in March by finishing first and second respectively at the nationals.

Shawn Sawyer of Edmundston, N.B., finished the free program in third place with a score of 133.48 and third overall with a score of 197.48.

In the junior men's final, Elladj Balde of Pierrefonds, Que., won with 109.68 points. Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., was second with 104.15 points while Dave Ferland of Metabetchouan-Lac a Croix, Que., finished third with 100.22.

Saturday's men's long program took place in front a crowd of 5,783 at the Pacific Coliseum, a high for the week at the venue that will host figure skating at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

With files from the Canadian Press