Patrick Chan won the Skate Canada International grand prix on Saturday, landing a series of difficult jumps during his free skate program to the roaring approval of the Canadian crowd.
Chan, a key gold medal hopeful for Canada at the upcoming Sochi Olympics, scored 173.93 points in the long program Saturday night, for a convincing win with a total score of 262.03 points.
Japan’s Yuzuri Hanyu placed second with a total score of 234.8 points, followed by Japanese skater Nobunari Oda, with 233 total points over the two-day competition.
Despite missing on one of his quads during the short program Friday in Saint John, Chan was in first place heading into the free skate with 88.10 points, followed by the two Japanese skaters.
Chan, whose long program this season begins with two quads in the first minute, landed those jumps cleanly, while his two closest competitors from Japan fell on their more difficult jumps. Despite winning somewhat handily, Chan said afterward he was experiencing nerves about the long program before he got on the ice.
"I was nervous, honestly," Chan said. "It was a real challenge even before I got on the ice to stay positive, and remember the things that I wanted to repeat that I had in the short program, which was to be looking forward to go out there, looking forward to doing the quads but not getting too far ahead. Just thinking one quad at a time, then moving on to the next element."
Landing the first quad so cleanly helped Chan relax for the rest of the long program, which has given him problems in the past.
"A lot oft he time it's about having patience," Chan said. "When I land the first quad it just kind of settles me and it really makes my knees soften and really brings my shoulders down, and then I just pace through the program just like I do in training."
Landing the second quad was even better. "I could just feel like my breath slowed down and my shoulders dropped. And I felt much more relaxed," he said.
Despite some trouble with his axels, which Chan admits are always a challenge for him, he said the skate made him feel that his preparations for Sochi are on track, less than four months out from the Olympics.
Perhaps the nerves helped. Unlike Chan, who doubted himself beforehand, third-place finisher Nobunari was at a loss to explain why he fell on his jumps. The Japanese skater said he lacked no confidence, but came up short on the ice.
"I don't know what I have to do," Nobunari said. "I have a lot of confidence, but I missed all my quads. So I am pretty sad."