Canada's Patrick Chan vowed he would use this tumultuous week as a lesson in maintaining his focus.
It was mission accomplished for the Toronto native, who sloughed off the controversy that had swirled around the young skater to win his second consecutive ISU Grand Prix Final title Saturday, and cap an undefeated season.
The 20-year-old drew on the energy from the crowd at Pavillon de la Jeunesse to score 173.67 for his far-from-flawless performance to music from “Concerto de Aranjuez,” still good enough to win gold with 260.30 points overall.
“I was mentally exhausted this whole week, it's been a go go go situation, but it was exciting, and the audience helps in that situation and just the clapping and gearing up and the build to announcing my name was the most amazing part of the day,” Chan said.
“It was a special moment and I want to thank everyone.”
Chan — dressed in a billowy red shirt and black slacks accented with slashes of red — fell on his triple Lutz, bobbled the landing of his quad toe loop and touched down both hands on his second quad jump.
But none of the six skaters in the field were perfect. Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, who stumbled on the landing of his quad toe loop, moved up three spots from the short program to finish second, scoring 172.63 for his free program and 249.12 overall. Javier Fernandez of Spain, who's coached by Canada's Brian Orser, took bronze with 247.55 points overall, earning 166.29 for his free skate.
Carolina Kostner of Italy won gold in women's singles, while Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany edged Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov by .18 to win the pairs. Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were fifth.
Chan found himself in hot water earlier this week for what were perceived to be unfavourable comparisons between Canada and his parents' homeland of China in an interview with Reuters.
The skater is known for speaking his mind, and said he doesn't plan on changing any time soon.
“No. I know you guys don't want me to, I've heard that many times, and I'll do my best not to,” he laughingly told a handful of reporters. “It's very difficult to change someone's personality, I'm very honest, and I think that's why it will be very hard for me to change what I say or the way I say it.
“But one thing I will do is try to be more precise in what I say.”
Chan and Skate Canada officials said the distractions throughout the week could only help the Canadian skater deal with the unexpected in the leadup to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“This is part of the game of sport, you're going to hit these points where sometimes controversy swirls around and something kind of gets turned into a negative at a major event and you have to deal with it,” said Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director. “He handled it well and moved forward and put the focus back on skating.
“These are little road blocks around the way that are going to creep up as we lead into Sochi, and we can say been through it, I can move on, I can move on and come out and do what what I need to do here.”
Chan's victory in Quebec concluded a spectacular year that saw him win the Canadian championships, ISU Four Continents, the world championships — where he set three world records — then two Grand Prix events and the Final.
Orser, who went undefeated in 1987, said it's a difficult feat that few can accomplish.
“Especially with this event, if you look historically at this event, skaters are never their best at the Final,” said the two-time Olympic silver medallist.
Kostner, meanwhile, scored 121.05 points in the women's free program for 187.48 points overall, to top a field that was missing two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan.
“I think I am still a little bit nervous because I was really nervous going into the competition,” Kostner said. “It was the first time for me to defend something that felt so important. I am so happy that I did not have major mistakes but have the feeling I could have done better.”
Dressed in an unconventional sparkling silver unitard, Kostner skated an almost-flawless program to Mozart's Concerto No. 23, her only misstep a hand down on her triple flip.
Akiko Suzuki of Japan won the silver, scoring 118.46 points for her free program and 179.76 overall. Russia's Alena Leonova took bronze with 115.96 points for her free skate for a total of 176.42.
Asada pulled out of the Final to return to Japan on Thursday after learning that her mother was seriously ill. Her mom, Kyoko Asada, passed away at a hospital before Mao arrived back in Japan.
In pairs, Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., were making their debut in the Final in just their second season together, but struggled through a rocky performance that saw Radford fall on their opening jumps, side-by-side Lutzes.
“Just to be here and among the best teams in the world and be recognized as one of the best teams in the world is a dream come true,” Duhamel said. “We're really happy with it.”
Seconds before Radford's fall, he took an elbow in the chin from Duhamel on a lift, and said he was still feeling the sting from the blow. Duhamel broke her partner's nose with an elbow at the world championships last spring in Moscow.
The Canadians also received zero points for their death spiral because Duhamel's head wasn't low enough to the ice.
“We knew it wasn't done well, but we hoped it was done well enough to get something,” Duhamel said. “But that's five points lost for that. That's a big miss.”
Savchenko and Szolkowy won gold with 212.26 points, while Volosozhar and Trankov were second with 212.08. Russians Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov won bronze with 187.77. Duhamel and Radford scored 170.43.
Jason Brown of the U.S. won the junior men's singles, scoring 208.41. China's Yan Han was second with 205.93, while American Joshua Farris took the bronze with 203.98.
Russia swept the junior ice dance event with Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin claiming gold (147.53). Anna Yanovskaia and Sergie Mozgov won the silver (136.61), while Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin were third (135.17).
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