Patrick Chan, Kevin Reynolds deliver a short one-three punch for Canada at world figure skating championships
Coquitlam skater's performance 'amazing,' says defending two-time champion
Canada's Patrick Chan reacts as the marks are posted for his short program in the men's competition at the World Figure Skating Championships on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 in London, Ont.
Photograph by: Paul Chiasson, Canadian Press
LONDON, Ont. — First and third?
No one will be terribly surprised to wake up to news that the two-time and defending world champion, Patrick Chan, is leading the London worlds after the men’s short program — but Coquitlam’s Kevin Reynolds in third place?
“That’s amazing,” said Chan, who left most of the field far in his rear-view mirror with a world-record score of 98.37.
“Before I even skated, I was like: Kevin’s up there! He’s been, I think, overlooked for a long time and now he’s finally stomped his foot down and said, ‘Hey, I have something to prove, and I belong here’ — and he does. He’s a very important part of this Canadian team.”
Chan was untouchable on this night, despite a shaky opening combination when he had to work hard to dig out the landings on both the quad and the triple toe loop.
But he skates like no one else. So when the jumps land, it’s game over.
“It was so inspirational to be out there,” said the 22-year-old from Toronto. “I got into my last spin and it was like this rush, tingling, cold rush through my body — it was just amazing, how badly I wanted to do well at a world championships like this, at home. You can only feel that once in a lifetime, I think, or if you’re going to jump off a building.”
Hopefully, he’ll hold off doing that until after Friday, when the men’s competition concludes with the free skate. Maybe until after the Sochi Olympics.
At the moment, his nearest pursuer — shockingly, Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, seventh at last year’s worlds, now training in Lake Arrowhead under the venerable Frank Carroll — is seven points back, and after that it’s another six back to Reynolds in third at 85.16.
The last 13 skaters, and a few before them scattered through the session, had at least a quad, if not a quad combination, written into their short programs.
Not all landed. But the day when a world or Olympic championship can be won without one — like Jeff Buttle at the 2008 worlds in Goteborg, or Evan Lysacek at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics — is gone forever.
And Reynolds landed two of them.
The reed-thin redhead who suffered a ruptured cyst behind his left knee two weeks ago — within days of returning from Japan with the Four Continents title — battled hard to land his triple Axel after opening with a quad Salchow-triple toe combination, then turned the scheduled triple Lutz late in his program into a second quad, and had to fight for that, too.
The quads, and the grit, earned him huge extra marks, and respect. He beat his season’s best score, from the Four Continents, by seven points and his career best by four.
Pretty impressive considering that, in his own words, “10 days ago, I didn’t think I’d be able to participate here this week, so to have a performance like this on home ice is an incredible start to the week.”
Reynolds said that as soon as the first two elements landed, fully-rotated, he knew he would throw in the second quad.
“That’s been the plan all season, as it was at Four Continents. It wasn’t perfect, but it was worth it because I got credit for the rotations.”
Asked if he feels he is finally up there with the world’s best, Reynolds said, “Well, I’d like to think so, but I’m still improving on that second mark and it showed even a little bit tonight, so I’ll be continuing to work on that toward Sochi, and beyond.”
Chan, meanwhile, is shooting to become the first back-to-back-to-back winner since Alexei Yagudin’s run ended in 2000 — and in the new scoring system, where before his arrival there had been six different men’s champions in six years, that would be as impressive as anything a Canadian male skater has done in the sport’s history.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “To put in all that work and prove to myself ... that figure skating is not a matter of luck, it’s a matter of how much work you put in, and how much confidence you have in the work.
“I think if I hadn’t put in the work I did the last three weeks, I’d have fallen on both the quad and the triple Axel. But you’re on auto-pilot when you come to this event at this point in your career, under these pressures — I’ve trained in those situations where I don’t feel great, where I’m cold or I’m grumpy, it doesn’t matter. I find my feet. And today was like that.”
Ten’s score of 91.56 might have been the night’s biggest surprise, bigger even than Reynolds. It was 13 points better than his lifetime best.
“I am happy, it was a surprise. I am shocked,” said the 19-year-old. “It is always a pleasure to skate in Canada. I will be fresh and focused for the free skate.”
It wasn’t as good a night for Brian Orser’s two contenders. Javier Fernandez of Spain popped a planned triple Axel into a single, and sat in seventh place.
“I felt really calm going in. I don’t know what happened at that moment I popped it,” he said. “Sometimes these things just happen.”
Last year’s bronze medallist, Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, fell on his quad and had no combination after putting hands down on his triple Lutz, and plummeted to ninth.
“I am really angry at myself and really unsatisfied with this performance,” he said. “It is good we have a day off in between. I want to come back strong and take revenge in the free skating.”
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