Javier Fernandez of Spain upset two-time and reigning World champion Patrick Chan of Canada to take the lead in the Men’s figure skating short program at Skate Canada International Friday in Windsor. Japan’s Nobunari Oda is in a close third.
The situation was similar to last year at Skate Canada when Fernandez put out a strong short to take first place.
“Even the score is similar,” the Spaniard noted.
It was well deserved. Skating to music from The Mask of Zorro soundtrack, the ISU Grand Prix Final bronze medalist hit a beautiful quadruple toe and a triple Axel, and also earned a level four for the footwork and the combination spin. The only flaw was a three-turn and edge call on the triple Lutz-triple toe comb, and he scored 85.87 (46.41/39.46) points.
“I feel really good,” said the 21-year-old. “I think we had a hard season last year, and this year the beginning of the season was really strong. We did a lot of nice run-throughs in practice. Tomorrow is another day, I just have to fight tomorrow and to be as good as I can.”
The “Zorro” routine was an idea of choreographer David Wilson, but the skater embraced it quickly.
“I like it because there is a story, a character, and also because it is Spanish music,” he explained.
Chan had a good warm up, however, his nerves let him down in the competition again. The World champion only did a triple toe-triple toe combo and almost fell on the triple Axel, stumbling badly on the landing. The 21-year-old rallied back to complete a triple Lutz and two level-four spins. His program to Elegie in E-Flat Minor by Sergei Rachmaninov, which was very sophisticated, earned him high component marks, and his total score was 82.52 (39.81/42.71) points.
“The program was great,” said the five-time Canadian champ. “I really enjoyed skating it. I went out there, I got into my starting position and I really felt good, I felt confident. I felt like I had a winning program.”
“The jumps are jumps,” he explained, of his struggle. “They worked in the six-minute warm up. They were really great, but it’s so different to do it on the ice with five other guys on the warm-up and being all alone on the ice by yourself. It’s intimidating.”
As for the quad, Chan felt that he lacked speed going into it. Overall, he was still pleased with his effort.
“I’m very happy with the way the program laid out in between the jumps,” he said. “Everything was good quality.”
Oda landed a quad-triple toe combination, a triple Lutz and produced three level-four spins to “The New Moon in the Old Moon’s Arm, but landed the triple Axel on two feet. However, the quad combo was very close to the boards. The 25-year-old earned 82.14 (44.61/37.53) points.
“I was really focused on the quad and I did it, so I’m very happy,” said the former Japanese champion. “My coach told me to stay away from the boards and it was better than in practice and I didn’t crash into the boards.”
Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten placed fourth at 75.26 points with his exquisite program to music from The Artist soundtrack. The 19-year-old pulled off a quad toe and three level-four spins, but went down on the underrotated triple flip-triple toe combination. Nevertheless, his program, which featured a good step sequence, was a true highlight of the competition.
Florent Amodio of France made errors on all three jump elements to come in fifth at 74.61 points. The 2011 European Champion crashed on the quad Salchow and stumbled on the triple Axel, as well as the triple Lutz-triple toe combination.
Elladj Balde was a surprise in sixth place with 72.46 points. The powerful Canadian reeled off a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple Axel and triple loop in his characteristic Flamenco routine.
Artur Gachinski of Russia disappointed. He fell on the quad toe and didn’t do a combination. The Technical Panel punished him by calling the triple Lutz a “plus combo,” which warranted deductions from the judges, although Gachinski submitted planned program content stating that the combination was to be with the quad. The 2012 European silver medalist picked up a level four for all three spins and the straight line step sequence. He received 69.74 points.
USA’s Ross Miner missed the quad Salchow and the triple Lutz that was planned in combination. He sits in eighth with 69.41 points.