Patrick Chan left Skate Canada International earlier this season a little red-faced but all-the-more more determined.
The two-time world figure skating champion said that, looking back now, suffering his first major international defeat in a year-and-a-half was a blessing in disguise and put him back on track for the rest of the season.
He’ll have a chance to test his theory against the best in the world this week at the ISU Grand Prix Final.
“It was a huge shock,” Chan said. “I haven’t lost in front of a home crowd in a long time, and it was definitely a wakeup call. I think that was the turning point in the season.
“I got embarrassed, I was disappointed in myself. But it was great, I got back home and worked really hard.”
The 21-year-old Chan, the two-time defending Grand Prix Final champion, finished runner-up to Spain’s Javier Fernandez at Skate Canada back in late-October, but rebounded to win the Rostelecom Cup in Russia a couple of weeks later.
“You know what, sometimes it takes losing a competition to get you back on track, because you can’t win every competition there is for a long period of time. I needed Javier to beat me. I said ‘Hey, I’m better than this, I can do better than this,“’ Chan said. “It was not a bad thing at all.”
The Grand Prix Final is the culmination of the Grand Prix series that includes six stops. Skaters compete in two stops each, and the top six entries in each of the four disciplines based on points face off in the Final.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir — Canada’s Olympic gold medallists and two-time defending world champions — look for ice dance redemption after finishing second behind American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White last year in Quebec City.
Canada also qualified two pairs teams — defending Canadian champions Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., and Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto.
Chan will face a stiff field that includes Fernandez, plus Japan’s fierce duo of Daisuke Takahashi and Yuzuru Hanyu. Notable absences are Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko and Evan Lysacek of the U.S. Both are making a comeback for the 2014 Games but both have undergone surgery in recent weeks.
The Canadian team skaters said competing in the Sochi arena will provide some measure of comfort when they return a little more than a year from now for the Olympics.
“Obviously it’s exciting to test out the Olympic venue, sort of get the lay of the land,” Virtue said. “We spent so much time in Vancouver before the 2010 Olympics, so I think this is an excellent opportunity for us to mentally and physically prepare ourselves for that specific venue.”
Added Chan: “I like to be comfortable in the environment that I’m in, and that affects the way that I skate.”
Moir said he and Virtue are a different team than they were going into last year’s Grand Prix Final. Virtue was finally healthy last fall for the first time in years, after surgery on her lower legs derailed the better part of a couple of seasons.
“Last year we were kind of out to prove to everybody that we were back, and that we were finally healthy and while that was true, we were trying a little bit too hard and we just tried to show everybody so much so that it kind of worked against us,” Moir said. “So we’ll be reminding each other and reminding ourselves that the training is there, and we’ve just got to let our skating speak for itself.”
Virtue and Moir won both their Grand Prix events this season — Skate Canada and the Rostelecom Cup.
Duhamel and Radford earned their spots after finishing second at both Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard.
Moore-Towers and Moscovitch were second at the NHK Trophy and fourth at the Cup of China.
Two Canadian pairs teams qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final — Margaret Purdy of Strathroy, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., and Brittany Jones and Ian Beharry of Guelph, Ont.