Javier Fernández of Spain was the big winner Friday at Skate Canada International, beating two World Champions en route to his first place in the Men’s short program. 2010 World Champion Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) and 2011 World Champion Patrick Chan (CAN) had to settle for second and third.
Fernández wasn’t even ranked high enough in the ISU world standings to make it to the second warm up group. He didn’t care, just went out and hit the only clean quad toe of the day, followed by a triple Lutz-triple toe and a big triple Axel in his program to Petit Fleur and I Love Paris. The 20-year-old scored a whooping 84.71 points, a big personal best for him.
“I’m really happy,” the overwhelmed Spaniard said. “I’m so happy that my work paid off. We were working hard to go to the competition and do a good program, and I’m happy that tonight everything worked out. The quad was really easy. I have no words. It was amazing tonight.”
Looking to Chan and Takahashi who sat left and right of him, Fernández added: “I am in first today, but I know they want to beat me and they are great skaters. I am planning two quads, two triple Axels, and all the triples tomorrow and I’ll try to do the best I can.”
Takahashi, 25, as always had found something new and different for himself. This time his short is oriental-themed and set to the Garden of Souls. Choreography and interpretation were superb, and the jumps were there as well: a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, a triple Axel, and triple Lutz. However, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist left a few points on the table with a level-one change camel spin. He scored 84.66 points.
“I really wanted to put out the quad today in the program, but after it didn’t go well in the six minutes warm up, I decided not to do it today,” Takahashi explained. “I was able to skate clean without a quad, so it was not so good and not so bad, but overall I’m pretty happy with my performance.”
Chan obviously was the hero of the audience in Mississauga, and maybe he was overexcited. He was a mess in the warm-up. The program, last year’s Take Five, went a little better, but was a far cry from his best. Chan opened with the quadruple toe but almost fell and then doubled the Axel. The World Champion rallied back with a triple Lutz-triple toe combination and two level-four spins and footwork. He earned 83.28 points, trailing the leader by a little over one point.
“Things happen,” said the 20-year-old. “I was really proud of myself and I was actually more happy than if I had skated clean, because it just showed how well I could rely on my training. Even though that little trip and slip on my edge (on the quad)… it wasn’t a big deal. I got right up and actually rotated and stayed on my feet,” Chan said.
“Even with the double Axel, I still stayed in character with the program and it really saved me,” the Canadian Champion continued. “Tomorrow it’s going to be a great competition with the three of us. It’s a close competition and that’s what the audience is here to watch.”
As usual, Chan seemed unfazed by his current placement. “This position is great. It’s better than last year at Skate Canada,” he laughed. “This is my first Grand Prix and my goal is it to make it to the Grand Prix Final. As long as I make it, I’m satisfied.”
USA’s Adam Rippon planned a quad Lutz in his original program content, but did an excellent triple with both arms raised over his head instead. However, the triple Axel in the program to Korobushko was two-footed and the back end of the triple flip-triple toe combo was underrotated. The two-time World Junior figure skating champion came fourth with 72.89 points.
Denis Ten from Kazakhstan was very elegant in his routine to Rachmaninov’s Elegie op. 3 No. 1, but he slipped and went down on the triple Axel after he basically had landed it. He sits in fifth with 71.40 points.
Canada’s Andrei Rogozine, turned in a solid performance completing a triple flip-triple toe, a triple Axel and a triple Lutz, but his spins garnered just level one and two. The Russian-born Canadian picked up 67.28 points.
“This is my first senior event,” the World Junior Champion commented, “so to skate a solid short like that was a good opening of the season for me. Even if this is the biggest event I’ve had so far, I was pretty confident. Maybe it’s the home turf. I felt very confident going into it and I kept the confidence throughout.”
Kevin van der Perren of Belgium doubled the Axel and finished eighth.
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