As he finished his free program at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont., Patrick Chan took his right palm and smacked it against his forehead while skating slowly across the ice, likely just absorbing the moment.
It didn’t go as planned. He’d fallen twice during the six-minute program and now the competition that had started perfectly looked like it might end in disappointment for the 22-year-old who was performing in front of a home crowd on one of the biggest stages in figure skating.
The gold medal that he appeared to be on his way to capturing was no longer a sure thing.
Luckily for Chan however, his exceptional short program in which he put up a world-record score of 98.37 was enough to carry him all the way to a third-straight world championship Friday, albeit just barely.
As the results show, Chan finished with a final combined score of 267.78, while silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan finished with a score of 266.48. Spanish skater Javier Fernandez, who was believed to be one of Chan’s biggest competitors heading into the worlds, went on to capture bronze.
Chan admitted afterwards in an interview with Scott Russell of the CBC that it was both his impressive quadruple jumps and the seven-point lead that he had built up from the short program that helped him to the win Friday.
“Definitely, both those elements saved me,” he told Russell. “The quads were beautiful today . . . I obviously got really good GOE’s on those two quads and that definitely helped. And of course the good short program, it made up for the mistakes I made today.
“Like I said it’s a two-program competition and luckily I took advantage of the first program.”
Chan’s performance this week in London is just a small sample of what’s been an up-and-down season for the Ottawa native. He failed to win Skate Canada International in the fall and at the Grand Prix in Sochi. But many hoped he would use the home-ice advantage he had at the world championships to catapult himself back to the top of the men’s figure skating world, and he did.
Chan mentioned in his interview with Russell that his two quads were a big part of the reason he was able to walk away with a gold medal around his neck Friday and ironically not attempting the quadruple jump is what got him and other skaters slammed by Elvis Stojko at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Now quads are embedded into his routines and for that reason his name is now engraved in Canadian sports history as he joins Stojko and Kurt Browning as the only Canadians to ever win three world championships.
And in less then a year from now he’ll have the chance to do what Stojko and Browning didn’t and that’s win gold at the Winter Olympics.
Asked by Russell how he’s feeling heading into Sochi Chan said he’s very optimistic.
“How much better I was today and this whole week compared to Skate Canada earlier this season, all I need now is those three weeks I trained really well before the world championships, I just need that throughout the season . . . It’s going to be really good, I’m positive.”