When the music stopped and Patrick Chan stuck one final toe pick in the ice, the Canadian figure skater put two hands to his heart to thank the fans at Pavillon de la Jeunesse.
The 20-year-old from Toronto shrugged off the previous day's distractions and an uncharacteristic fall into the boards to win the short program at the ISU Grand Prix Final on Friday.
“It was so exciting to hear them cheer and not hear boos, I was expecting boos actually,” Chan said. “For me to hear that, it gave me energy, it almost came from the ice, and I completely forgot about everything and focused on skating.”
Chan scored 86.63 points for his jazzy program to Paul Desmond's “Take Five,” despite a hard fall into the boards on a triple toe loop. Jeremy Abbott of the U.S. was second with 82.66 points, while Javier Fernandez of Spain was third with 81.26.
Chan caused quite a stir in Quebec City a day earlier for comments in a Reuters story that were perceived as comparing Canada unfavourably to his parents' country of China. The world champion apologized for his comments, which drew scathing criticism on the Internet.
Chan's tumble wasn't the only Canadian misstep on the day. Scott Moir uncharacteristically wound up on his backside, in what could very well cost Canada's Olympic ice dance champions the Grand Prix Final crown. His slipup, early in their rumba program, left he and partner Tessa Virtue in second place and a full five points behind the leaders heading into Sunday's free dance.
Chan, the defending Grand Prix Final champion, was happy to put the controversy behind him.
“Luckily I was still able to sleep well, I'm a deep sleeper, but I have great people around me, Skate Cnaada has been really behind me, my parents and my coach, Christy (Krall) is always great at keeping it light, completely distracting me,” he said. “And I accept that it happened, and that's the best way to get rid of something, accept it happened and accept the responsibility.”
Chan's fall came on a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination. He laid down a beatiful quad toe but was too close to the end of the rink for his triple, banging hard into the boards.
“I was shocked, actually I said a bad word. A four-letter word. That was the first thing I said, you could see the shock on my face, I was like oh my god I can't believe that happened,” Chan said, laughing. “I kind of felt like Midori Ito, flying off the boards.”
Ito fell into the cutout in the boards for the television cameras at the 1991 world championships.
Chan's left arm had several large red welts, but the Canadian, who slapped a hand to his forehead after the program, joked the only thing he hurt was his pride.
Moir took a light-hearted approach to his tumble as well. When his fall was displayed in slow motion on the Jumbotron after, the skater went for comedic effect, throwing up his arms and tumbling backward off his seat.
“I think something happened out there, you guys didn't see that big hole I fell into?” Moir kidded with reporters afterward.
Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., scored 71.01 points to trail reigning world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S., who scored 76.17.
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France are third with 68.68. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., are fourth with 66.24.
Earlier Friday, Canada's Katherine Bobak and Ian Beharry captured a silver medal in junior pairs, continuing their swift rise up the figure skating ranks.
In pairs, Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are fifth after the short program.
The 24-year-old Moir caught his blade on Virtue's and was down on his backside in a split second before popping back up. He raced with comically short choppy steps to catch up to his partner, drawing laughter from the crowd at the Pavillion de la Jeunesse.
“I was up quick. Back into play, I had to backcheck,” Moir joked.
The fall was shown several times on the Jumbotron as Virtue and Moir sat in the “kiss and cry” area waiting for their marks.
“The fans obviously want to see it, and it was nice actually for me to see exactly what happened because it happened so quick, (one moment) I was loving it and then suddenly the lights were glaring at me,” Moir said. “I knew I wasn't supposed to be looking up there but I didn't really know what happened.”
Virtue and Moir are gunning for their first Grand Prix Final victory. They didn't even compete on the circuit last season, after Virtue sat out several months recuperating from surgery on her lower legs.
While they're facing a steep uphill climb to get to the top of the podium with the free dance, the Canadians' coach Marina Zoueva wasn't surprised by Moir's lighthearted response to his stumble.
“It's his personality, even in practice he never does a mistake in a sad way, it's always with a happy finish, which is great,” Zoueva said.
She cracked a couple of jokes herself, saying Moir should have received bonus marks for how fast he got up, and his quick feet in playing catch-up.
“He was just down, up,” she said, with a thrust of her arms. “A point-plus for that. Plus for his choreography I say. One deduction and one plus point.
She shrugged and added, “We have a very slippery sport.”
Davis and White, friends and training partners of Virtue and Moir in Canton, Mich., poked fun at Moir in the post-event news conference.
“We don't usually watch anyone before us, there's a lot to focus on,” Davis said when asked if he was aware Moir had fallen. “But of course when you're out there and the crowd is laughing really hard, you're like ‘What is going on?' We figured it was just Scott hamming it up.”
Added Moir: “They weren't just laughing and pointing, it's not Yuk Yuks out there.”
Carolina Kostner of Italy scored 66.43 to lead the women's singles short program. Japan's Akiko Suzuki was second with 61.30, while Alena Leonova of Russia scored 60.46 to sit third.
The women's field is missing two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan, who left Quebec City on Thursday to be with her ill mother. Kyoko Asada passed away at a Nagoya hospital before Mao arrived back in Japan, according to Asada's agency IMG.
In junior pairs, the 17-year-old Bobak and Beharry, 19, earned a score of 152.65 points overall, clinching silver with their second-place performance in the free program.
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China won the gold with 160.43 points, while Americans Britney Simpson and Matthew Blackmer scored 146.35 for bronze.
Bobak and Beharry, both from Guelph, Ont., have only been competing together since last February, but earned a gold and silver in their two Junior Grand Prix events to earn a berth in the Final.
“I think both of our skating styles are really similar, that's what everybody said right off the bat in our first tryout,” said Beharry, who also has a job as a Zamboni driver.
Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., scored 61.04 points, their only major misstep being a hand touched down by Duhamel on a triple Salchow.
Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov are the leaders with 71.57 points, while Alona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are second with 69.82, and China's Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao sit third (63.43).