Worlds show Patrick Chan has his work cut out for him | Figure Skating | CBC Sports

Figure SkatingWorlds show Patrick Chan has his work cut out for him

Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | 01:50 PM

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Canada’s Patrick Chan won his third straight world title in London, Ont., but was far from his best in the free program. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images) Canada’s Patrick Chan won his third straight world title in London, Ont., but was far from his best in the free program. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

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The thing about the World Figure Skating Championships is you can never take anything for granted. This year's event in London, Ont., brought us some of the most surprising results and skates that we've seen in a long time.
The thing about the World Figure Skating Championships is you can never take anything for granted. This year's event in London, Ont., brought us some of the most surprising results and skates that we've seen in a long time.

From a Canadian perspective: Canada has qualified the maximum three entries for men, dance and pairs, and two for women at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. For Canadian skating fans, this is fantastic news.

Chan has work to do

The men's event in London showed that three-time world champion Patrick Chan has his work cut out for him if he wants to stay ahead of the field and become the Olympic champion.

Chan was brilliant in the short program and set a new world record score of 98.37. In the free program, he got out two beautiful quad toe loop jumps with one in combination and then had falls on both the triple Axel and triple Lutz jumps.

There was the typical snarking about the fact that Chan should not have won the event. What people need to understand is that the points for two quads with one in combination, plus an almost seven-point lead after the short, plus slightly higher points in four of the five component scores went a long way to overcoming the two-point hit for the falls. This is what helped Chan hold on to his very slim 1.30-point lead overall to take the title. Though it has to be noted that Chan lost the free by 5.51 points.

I got the chance to catch up with Chan, the first man since 2000 and only the 12th man since 1896 to capture three consecutive world titles:

I couldn't have been more thrilled to see Denis Ten of Kazakhstan finally put together two outstanding programs back to back and win the silver medal. For once, growth spurts, injuries and/or nerves were nowhere to be found and Ten was brilliant in both the short and the free. I have always known that this man had the potential, so to actually see him perform his programs to the best of his ability when it counted was a thrill for me. Ten becomes the first person from Kazakhstan to win a medal at an ISU championship of any kind.

The bronze medal went to Spain's Javier Fernandez, whose performances in both the short and the free were less than his best. Coming third in the free allowed Fernandez to move from seventh place after the short up to the bronze position and become Spain's first world championship medallist.

Controversy in pairs

The pairs' event left many people scratching their heads. The clear winners were the Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov. I really like this team on many levels, not the least of which is their beautiful unison and connection and superb technique.

The controversy came when former four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany snuck ahead of Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford for the silver with a sub-par free performance.

On an emotional level I was right there with the fans. Having had some time to digest the facts and really look at the numbers, here is what I can share with you.  

Duhamel and Radford were in second after the short, but with only a 0.14-point advantage over  the Germans.  In the free, the pairs can earn a 10 per cent bonus on each throw and lift element in the second half of the program. The Germans did six elements and the Canadians did five after the halfway point.

Duhamel and Radford seemed to struggle a bit in the last minute or so of their program, and the under-rotation of a triple Salchow and double toe in the final combination by Eric may have been the tipping point.

It was a matter of a little bit here and a little bit there in the points. At the very end of the program, Savchenko and Szolkowy did a throw triple Axel that helped seal their silver medal. At the end of the event, the 2012 world champions had a 1.14-point advantage in the free and a slim one-point edge overall on the Canadians.

I admire Duhamel and Radford for sticking with their plan. The Four Continents champions kept saying over and over from the very beginning of the season that they wanted to be on the podium at worlds. Mission accomplished with their bronze in London.

At the end of their performances, skaters offer what are called "quick quotes" to the media. I have included what the Canadians and the Germans had to say about their free programs:

Duhamel: This performance was a bit of a fight for us near the end, but we did it. We fought very hard. We had our good moments and OK moments. Overall I am very pleased. This is the highest we have ever scored  internationally and it is very exciting.

This is an awesome accomplishment for us. We started off very strong. Unfortunately we didn't end as strong as we would have hoped. The crowd was fantastic. They really helped us. This is an experience that we will never, ever forget, [skating in front of a Canadian audience].

Szolkowy: Sometimes the pairs elements work better, sometimes the single elements. Today it was the pairs. After being third after the short, we wanted to attack, for sure. We did the throw triple Axel, that was the highlight of our performance today. It worked perfectly. Well, it wasn't clean, but for being at the very end of the program it was great. And we have a medal for sure. It is a nice ending to  a tough season for us. We got silver with mistakes. It is another step towards Sochi.

I am angry at myself [she doubled their jumps]. At the beginning I was somehow confused. Maybe I saved energy for the throw triple Axel. But now I know what to do.

Carmen not enough for Virtue & Moir

During the short dance, 2012 world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir made a mistake on their twizzles, leaving them with a 3.25-point deficit going into the free program. The two teams were neck-and-neck in the free dance, with the nod going to Meryl Davis and Charlie White by a margin of 1.27 points. Davis and White earned their second world title by putting two solid programs back to back.

Virtue and Moir's Carmen program was never received as well as many, including me, would have liked. I honestly can't explain what was lacking, because for me it's a program that will be remembered for a very long time. That's not a knock on the quality of Davis and White's skating, which is superb. It's simply that, for me, Carmen is an outstanding performance piece. Outstanding or not, what wins competitions is the ability to perform excellent elements with speed and flow, which Davis and White did in spades.

European champions Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia took the bronze, their first world championship medal.

Kim doesn't miss a beat

Yu-Na Kim of South Korea took the ladies' world title and is back on top of the women's field. Kim had been my pick for bronze only because I wondered if she might be out of practice competing. I could not have been more wrong. The last time Kim competed at worlds was two years ago when she took the silver. The only other time that she won the world title was in 2009, and she went on to win the Olympics in 2010. It was great to see her back.

Carolina Kostner of Italy, the 2012 world champion, still has the two most interesting programs of the season for my money. She took home the silver. In an interesting aside, just before Kostner's name was announced for the free program, her nose started to bleed.  It may have been the distraction she needed to not melt down in her skate. She could even could be seen holding her nose while spinning.

The bronze went to Japan's Mao Asada, who appears to be getting closer to being back to the skater she once was. Her second-place performance in the free gave her enough points to move her from sixth afer the short to take the bronze. Look for Asada to be a podium threat at the Olympics.

Canada's skaters performed very well at these world championships. Here are the full results, including all Canadians.

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