It’s no wonder that scores from national figure skating championships do not count as world records. There’s always that thought that judges – in a blast of nationalistic pride – give their own athletes a boost when they go out on the world scene to show they are competitive with the best, particularly when there is a world championship in the offing.
The International Skating Union would prefer to recognize results that come from an international panel of judges.
There will be doubters who will say that Patrick Chan did not deserve the unprecedented score of 302.14 points – nobody in the history of the sport has ever broken 300 and it’s considered a pretty good effort when an athlete surpasses 200 – but talk to a skater, and they know that Chan’s big, bold strokes, and deft footwork in addition to his powerful jumps earned those points. He’s always trying to improve, to push for more. And Chan was decidedly brilliant in Moncton, N.B.
At the Japanese championships, Daisuke Takahashi got a final mark of 254.60, although he pushed the boundaries with a score of 96.05 in his short program, while Chan earned another unprecedented score of more than 101 points for that segment in Moncton. Takahashi did score 259.75 when he won the NHK Trophy in Japan.
Evgeny Plushenko, skating for the first time since the Vancouver Olympics, earned 259.67 points in winning his national championship a couple of weeks ago.
Chan won the Grand Prix Final with 260.30 points.
Surprisingly, there were other Canadian skaters who thought perhaps they should have scored higher at the Canadian championships last week.
Cynthia Phaneuf, who was dethroned by Amelie Lacoste for the Canadian title in Moncton, made it quite clear that she was disappointed with her presentation marks and thought she should have scored higher.
Skate Canada is taking the unusual move of waiting until after the Four Continents Championships next month in Colorado Springs to decide whether it will send Phaneuf or Lacoste to the world championships, when normally they base the world team on the results of the Canadian championships.
The marks of either skater don’t stack up very well against world competition. Lacoste earned 159.51 points, Phaneuf 157.94 last week. Eight Russian women got higher marks than the two Canadians did at their national championships. Carolina Kostner of Italy won the Grand Prix Final with a women’s season high of 187.48 points.
Then take the results of Olympic ice dancing champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won the Canadian championships last week, but weren’t leaping into each other’s arms over the scores meted by Canadian judges.
Virtue and Moir are in the fight of their lives as they strive to regain their world title, snatched from them last year at the world championships in Moscow by Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who also defeated the Canadians at the Grand Prix Final after Moir fell on his backside in one of the routines.
Virtue stumbled on a twizzle in the short dance at the Canadian championships, but their free dance to Funny Face on Saturday was a triumph. Just not in the marks. Did Canadian judges fail to take into account the strengths of their own dance team? Perhaps. Overall, Virtue and Moir ended up with 180.02 points. It will be interesting to see what Davis and White get at their national championships this week in San Jose, Calif.
Davis and White and Virtue and Moir have met only once this season at the Grand Prix Final, when the Americans scored 188.55 and the Canadians got 183.34, by virtue of that fall that cost them about five points.
Back home, Virtue and Moir revamped their programs and trained harder. The marks didn’t show it. But they may encounter Davis and White next at the Four Continents championships, where they will try to undo the incidents and accidents of the season.
Editor's note: An earlier online version of this article misidentified Charlie White. This version has been corrected.