If you weren’t a believer before, you have to be now. Reigning World Champion Patrick Chan decimated the competition in the men’s free skate at the 2012 Four Continents Figure Skating Championship, reinforcing the fact that he is the one to beat heading into next month’s World Championships in Nice, France.
“You just have to feel it and I was feeling it,” said the new champion. “It came together very well today. My plan from the beginning was two quads, but if it didn’t go well, I just trust my training. You just have to trust yourself.”
After opening with a beautiful quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, it was easy for the Colorado Springs-trained Chan to trust himself. Though he appeared confident throughout his Concerto de Aranjuez program, Chan admitted to feeling the pressure of the competition.
“I was more nervous today than I have been in a long time,” he admitted. “As soon as I got my feet under me, I was able to get my head on straight and let things go. I went through the elements one by one. I’m happy that I was able to remain focused after such a rough practice this morning.”
Chan’s practice aside, this competition was all him—he ended up with a competition total of 273.94 points which was nearly 30 points more than silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi.
Takahashi had a disastrous start to his Blues For Klook program, two-footing the landing of his opening quadruple toe loop attempt and then popping an intended triple Axel. As the program progressed, however, the Japanese champion pulled himself together and finished strong.
“Today was not good,” said the 2010 World Champion. “I missed two jumps, but the audience helped me and I enjoyed tonight a lot.”
The silver medalist thinks that this competition is a good stepping stone for the World Championships, but realizes he has his work cut out for him if he wants to return to the top of the podium in Nice.
“Between nationals and Worlds there is a lot of time so I’m glad to compete here in between,” he said. “There was also a big gap between me and Patrick which gives me motivation to work harder. Watching and practicing with other skaters also gives me motivation. I realize again [that] I need to improve the consistency of the quad jump.”
Takahashi earned 244.33 points in the competition.
Ross Miner jumped his way from sixth place after the short program to win the bronze medal by a little more than a point over teammate Adam Rippon, who finished in fourth.
“Today was pretty unexpected result-wise,” Miner said. “I had a long wait. When I got on the ice, I felt cold. The whole performance felt a little off then the results came up and whoa! That’s cool. I didn’t expect that.”
The U.S. bronze medalist skated with lots of speed, but struggled with some of the jumps—and even fell on a triple Lutz in the second half of the program. His performance still netted him 223.23 points, a new personal best.
“The goal for me coming in was a new season’s best,” he explained. “Winning a medal is just the cherry on top.”
Rippon rebounded from a disappointing seventh place finish in the short program, and actually beat Miner in the free skate by less than a point. His total of 221.55 points was also a season’s best.
“I told myself that I was well-trained and I worked really hard for nationals,” Rippon said. “I just really wanted to keep that momentum going. This wasn’t as strong, but I don’t really think I showed much weakness or letdown from nationals.”
Rippon opened with a quadruple Salchow attempt, but was able to complete it.
“I felt really tight tonight,” he admitted. “My only goal for the Salchow was to rotate it and get that monkey off of my back. I plan to start prepping for the World Championships, and I will definitely need the quad there. I’m gearing up to skate two clean programs in Nice.”
Japan’s Takahito Mura, second after the short program, struggled throughout his program, and appeared to struggle with the high altitude in Colorado Springs. He faded to a distant fifth place, but managed a new season’s best 217.16 points in the competition.
Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten also had issues with his free skate, but still managed his best placement in this competition—sixth.
Japan’s third entry, Tatsuki Machida finished in seventh place, while Canadian Kevin Reynolds finished in eighth.
Misha Ge from Uzbekistan and China’s Jinlin Guan rounded out the top ten in ninth and 10th, respectively.
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