Canada’s Patrick Chan finished first in the short program with a flawless performance to Tango de los Exilados. The student of Don Laws nailed his jumping passes, which included a strong triple Axel, a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, which had an excellent flow out, and a triple Lutz out of steps. His flip attempt, however, received a warning from the technical panel for use of the wrong take-off edge. As a result, the 2008 Skate Canada Champion did not earn any bonus points for the quality of execution of the combination.
Chan’s other technical elements were good, however, what really set him apart was the way the complicated transitions were used throughout the entire program to express the Tango feeling. His basic skating skills and his ability to present his program using his whole body, as well as his total control over each movement which he exhibits so casually, are also astonishing for someone as young as 17. He scored a new personal best of 81.39 points.
“I did all the things I’ve planned to do it this program,” said the Canadian Champion. “There were some little problems, like falling behind the music and spins being too slow, and I know my combo spin didn’t have enough revolutions in it. It’s just being slow in little parts of the program, and I just hope that next time I’ll make them better and quicker and more sharp.”
Chan feels that by competing in a different country that there isn’t as much weight on his shoulders, but he still goes in with expectations of himself. “I didn’t feel as good as I usually do,” he confessed. “Because of Skate Canada, a lot of people were expecting a lot from me, and I think it was time for me to show what I had to do. I still felt quite comfortable, and more comfortable than at Skate Canada.”
Takahiko Kozuka of Japan also landed all his jumps, earning excellent Grades of Execution (GOE) for his combination jump (+1.80) and triple Axel (+1.40), but the student of Nobuo Sato slipped on the landing of his flying sit spin – a mistake which cost him in the technical score.
“I never fell on the spin in competition,” said Kozuka, “only in practice at Skate America. I regret that. I want to skate with no mistake tomorrow.”
The 2008 Skate America Champion was otherwise flawless and all his other elements received positive marks from judges. His ability to present the program was also remarkable, but in contrast to Chan’s elaborate transitions, the main appeal of the program was the smooth flow from one element to the next. He earned 77.00 points for his jazzy routine to Take Five.
France’s Brian Joubert is currently in a disappointing third with 73.75 points despite receiving the highest component score of the evening. The current World silver medalist took advantage of the allotted minute allowed to get into his opening pose, however, it was obviously not enough for him to compose his thoughts as he skated right through his opening element. He popped his opening quad loop-triple loop combination into a single.
“I’m very disappointed,” said the 24-year-old. “I don’t know what happened. I was ready for this program, I was confident. I had a great warm up, but then I couldn’t jump. I couldn’t do even a triple toe. My left foot was like blocked.”
His two other jumps were the most powerful of the evening, but their quality was not enough to make up for the loss of more than ten points. The French Champion’s new program to Rise by Safri Duo, created for him by Evgeny Platov, at the moment leaves mixed impressions. Even though the upbeat music style should have suited the skater perfectly, his performance in front of the enthusiastic home crowd came across as rather detached.
“I’m happy because the rest of the program was clean,” said Joubert. “I lost 14 points, and I think I could have a very good score with this program and it gives me a little confidence for the rest of the season.”
Teammate Alban Preaubert is currently in a close fourth with 73.24 points. The defending bronze medalist did not make any mistakes in his program to Exit Music by Brad Melhdau, but the quality of his elements were not comparable to those of skaters who placed ahead of him. Still, the Frenchman sold his program well and the audience obviously enjoyed his emotional performance.
USA’s Ryan Bradley was the only skater to successfully execute a quadruple jump, but his landing was shaky and he was only able to tackle a double toe at the end of it, receiving -1.60 GOE for the combination. In addition, despite his great stylization to Elvis Presley music and entertaining character, both his step sequences were only awarded a level 2. With a total score of 69.35 points, the 2008 Skate Canada silver medalist is currently in the fifth place.
Fellow American Brandon Mroz finished sixth with a new personal best of 65.44 points, followed by Jialiang Wu of China (62.74 points) and Germany’s Peter Liebers (61.59 points).