Golden Skate

Chan defends Trophee Eric Bompard title

Canada's Patrick Chan, 17, performs his Long Program to selections of music by Rachmaninov.

Patrick Chan defended his title after finishing first in the Men’s Long Program with a score of 156.70 and 238.09 points total. Both sums now stand as his new personal best, but they certainly do not represent the limit of what the young Canadian skater is capable of achieving.

Skating last in the second warm up group, Chan was forced to wait for almost 40 minutes to start his program while listening to the audience erupt in ovations for two French skaters and then Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka. He was, however, up to the challenge.

The Canadian Champion opened his routine with an excellent triple Axel and triple flip-triple toe loop combination, and triple Lutz. He also completed a good change of foot sit spin and an intricate level four circular step sequence in which his movements were completely in tune with the music, but then stepped out of his second triple Axel and triple Salchow.

“I felt much better performance-wise and I felt really good on the ice,” Chan later said. “Not too relaxed, not too tight. To see I was first after the long was a big relief this time.”

Chan’s mistakes did not distract from an otherwise excellent flow of the superbly choreographed program to Rachmaninov’s music, and he received the highest program components score of the evening. His next competition will be at Grand Prix Final in December for which he qualified with the maximum 30 points.

“I’m happy with how I skated even though I made two mistakes,” said the Skate Canada Champion. “It’s a big jump from the long program I did at Skate Canada. It’s a big difference. The personal best is just icing on the cake.”

Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka won his second Senior Grand Prix medal and qualified for Grand Prix Final for the first time in his career. Skating to Nina Rota’s score for Romeo and Juliet, the 2008 Skate America Champion made only one mistake: he fell on an underrotated quad toe loop attempt in the first seconds of the program, but the remaining four minutes more than made up for this failure.

“I made a mistake on the quad toeloop,” noted Kozuka. “I fell and it was downgraded, but after that, I recovered very well similar to Skate America.”

The 20-year-old landed two triple Axels – the first one in combination with a triple toe loop and the other really late in the program, two triple Lutzes (one in combination with a double toe-double loop), as well as three other triples jumps. Kozuka also displayed excellent skating skills and the ability to interpret his music in an understated and unpretentious manner. While his transitions were not as strong as Chan’s, his overall delivery of the program was equally convincing. He scored 153.78 points for his long program, posting the highest technical score of the night due to the high grades of execution marks and racked up 230.78 points in total.

“Now I qualified for Grand Prix Final and in the month ahead, I’ll keep practicing hard,” said the Japanese silver medalist.

Alban Preaubert of France moved up one spot to capture the bronze over his more experienced compatriot Brian Joubert. The skater produced the most entertaining program of the night to the mix of Kalinka and “Song of the Volga Boatmen arranged by Maxime Rodriguez, and delivered with his trademark outgoing and humorous style. The 23-year-old had the highest starting value of all the competitors, as his program included a fully rotated quad toe loop, as well as two triple Axels and six other triples, however the quality of his jumps were not as outstanding as those of Kozuka and Chan and he received an edge call on his triple Lutz.

Nevertheless, with the second highest technical score, the French bronze medalist was able to win his first Grand Prix medal of the season. He earned 149.20 points, and the loudest audience reaction of the night, and picked up 222.24 points total.

“It wasn’t my first competition,” acknowledged Preaubert. “Beating Brian is not very important for me. The most important for me is to skate well and enjoy my performance. I had a lot of pleasure today because the audience was very supportive, I was very confident, and not too stressed.”

“I’m proud to be back in top shape,” he continued, referring to his back injury that forced him to withdraw from the World Championships in March. “I was sad that I couldn’t compete at Worlds. I couldn’t skate for one month and I couldn’t do jumps for two months, but I didn’t waste my time and I worked with the Lyon ice dancing team.”

Joubert finished off podium after he turned out of his quad toe loop attempt and later fell on an underrotated triple loop. The 2008 World Championships silver medalist recovered from his initial mistake to land two powerful triple Axels, and produced two other triples, but left out triple flip attempts since his recent attempts on this jump were always marked as “e” for use the wrong take off edge. Instead he completed a double Axel-double toe loop combination as his final jumping pass.

The French Champion’s routine to The Last of Mohicans soundtrack lacked the sheer entertaining value of Preaubert’s free skate right before him, but he sold the program well, scoring the second highest program components score. Overall the 24-year-old was awarded 147.38 points and 221.13 points in total – well below his personal best of 240.85 points.

USA’s Brandon Mroz finished fifth in long program and overall after he fell on his opening quad attempt and underrotated his second triple Axel. However, the 17-year-old landed seven triples, including a triple Axel-double toe loop combination, and gained a level four on two of his spins and a level three on all other non-jumping elements. He scored 124.02 and 189.46 points overall.

Peter Liebers of Germany moved up a couple of spots to finish sixth (176.88 points) overall after an entertaining program on a theme of martial arts. The 20-year-old landed a clean triple Axel and four other triples, but missed his second triple Axel and triple loop at the end of the program. He placed sixth in the long with 115.29 points.

USA’s Ryan Bradley finished seventh, followed by Jialiang Wu of China.

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