Patrick Chan smiled and stuck up three fingers when his score was posted — a small gesture for a mammoth accomplishment.
The 21-year-old from Toronto demolished his previous world scoring mark Sunday and broke the 300-point barrier to claim his fifth Canadian senior men's figure skating title.
“I made the 300 club,” Chan said with a laugh after finishing with 302.14 overall points. “I'm the only one though. I'm a loner.”
Chan produced one of the finest skates of his career, scoring 200.81 points for a free program that included two huge quadruple jumps and had the crowd at the Moncton Coliseum on its feet a full 30 seconds before his four-and-a-half minute program came to an end.
His score won't count as a world record as the Canadian championships are a domestic event. His 280.98 points at world championships last April in Moscow will remain the official world mark.
And Chan knows there will be critics who will question the high marks received on home turf.
“There are for sure people that are going to say that, but you can't really do anything about it,” Chan said. “I'm not going to let people ruin my fun. And it's not just for me, it's fun for the audience and the other skaters.”
Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., finished well back in second with 239.44 points, while Vancouver's Jeremy Ten was third with 207.50.
Dressed in black slacks and red shirt, Chan skated a mesmerizing performance to “Concierto de Aranjuez,” and had Canadian skating officials scratching their heads afterward trying to calculate how high his score could possibly go.
“When he finished the program, a few of us looked at each other and were kind of wondering, ‘OK, what did he score last year?“’ said Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director. “With Patrick, when he gets out and skates, you get caught up in it, you're watching it and then when it finishes you think back and go, 'Oh my god, how much stuff did he do in there?'
“He just keeps raising his personal bar higher which keeps raises the bar for the rest of the skaters that much higher.”
Chan is believed to be the first to have broken the 300-point barrier, and Slipchuk said the soaring marks were fully deserved.
“To me the scores, even domestically, are becoming very warranted,” Slipchuk said.
Chan went undefeated in the 2011 season, but wasn't thrilled with the first few months of this campaign. He won all three Grand Prix events in the fall and winter including the Grand Prix Final, but none of his programs were as strong as he would have liked.
Sunday, he vigorously pumped one fist when his program ended, saying he'd felt an overwhelming sense of relief.
“It was a big relief, just both relief for myself knowing that finally all that hard work, sticking to it, not getting too frustrated screwing up the Grand Prix season, screwing up some elements in the early part of the season, just keeping it together,” Chan said. “Turned out there was light at the end of the tunnel. And I was also so happy to share it with the people in Moncton.”
Chan credits a four-day trip to Las Vegas to celebrate his 21st birthday — it falls on New Years Eve — with the turnaround in his skating.
“It was just relaxing, having the right people around, having time for myself, just kind of sparks something in you,” said Chan.
“And gambling,” he added laughing. “It's just so exciting to gamble, you can be a totally different person, you can be whoever you want to be. Vegas was a big big part in it, it marked the end of a rough season and the beginning of a new one.”
Chan, who will be the favourite to win gold at the world championships in March in Nice, France, opened his long program with a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, and then reeled off another huge quad toe loop and a triple Axel before breezing through the remainder of his program.
“The pace of the program was great, made sure I breathed the entire time, didn't rush,” he said. “I actually didn't feel tired at the end of the program, I was so excited, felt like I could have done another long.”
He knew after posting a 101.33 points in Saturday's short program — his first time breaking 100 points — that 300 might be within reach.
“I thought, ‘OK, 300 is possible,' but I kind of put it behind me and made sure I stayed focused on the two quads and triple Axel, that whole opening section is key for me,” said Chan, who carried a bag of stuffed animals and a big Canadian flag — gifts from fans — when he met with the media.
“Once I hit the triple Axel, I felt I was on a good pace and just made sure I kept it together, and didn't get too extravagant, and get a big head over it too soon.”
Chan and the 21-year-old Reynolds — who landed two quads of his own in the free program — will represent Canada's men's singles team at the world championships, the team for which was determined at the Canadian championships.
Olympic gold medallists Tessa Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ont., along with Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., and Kharis Ralph of Toronto and Asher Hill of Pickering, Ont., are the three ice dance teams.
Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., and Jessica Dube of St-Cyrille de Wendover, Que., and Sebastian Wolfe of Terrebonne, Que., are the two pairs teams.
Canada can send only one women's singles skater and because no one has had a particularly strong season in that event, Skate Canada will wait to name the representative for world championships after the ISU Four Continents championships. The three women competing at Four Continents in Colorado Springs, Colo., are the three medallists at the Canadian championships — Amelie Lacoste of Delson, Que., Cynthia Phaneuf of Contrecoeur, Que., Alexandra Najarro of Richmond Hill, Ont.