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Canada’s Patrick Chan wins third consecutive men’s world title

LONDON, Ont. - Patrick Chan won his third consecutive world title, hanging on by his fingernails after a troubled trip on Friday.

Chan, who had dazzled in the short program, (set a world record, let his closest competitor by almost seven points), got a stiff challenge from a most unexpected quarter: Kazakhstani Denis Ten, who improved his season’s best score in the freeskate alone by almost 47 points.

Ten screamed as he finished, then crouched down onto the ice, kissing the frosty surface of the Budweiser Gardens.

The crowd fell silent when Chan fell on a triple Lutz, then fell again on a triple Axel, then staggered out of a triple flip – single lop – triple Salchow combination and if that wasn’t enough, he doubled a triple Lutz that was to be part of a combination.

Still, he got a standing ovation and a final mark of 267.78. Then he had to sweat it out until three others had skated, and one of them, Ten, pushed him to the limit, finishing with 266.48, only 1.30 points short of gold, himself.

Chan is the first men’s skater in 13 years to win three consecutive world titles.

Ten’s main claim to fame is that he became the first skater from Kazakhstan (and yes, he really was born there), to win a medal at an ISU championship (gold at a Junior Grand Prix in Belarus in 2008.) And he had finished fourth at the 2009 world junior championships.

Javier Fernandez of Spain won the bronze medal, his first at a world championship, bettering his previous finish of ninth last year. Fernandez popped a quad Salchow that was part of a combination and a triple Lutz, but finished with 249.06 points.

Last year’s world bronze medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan finished fourth this time, but it was as good as a victory. He really hasn’t jumped since the Four Continents championships last month, felled by illness and a wonky knee. Both Fernandez and Hanyu are trained by Brian Orser in Toronto.

When all was said and done, the efforts of Canada’s men’s skaters earned Canada three berths for the Olympics in Sochi.

In fact, they over-delivered. All three finished in the top 13. Kevin Reynolds, who had to skate after a wild standing ovation for Ten, admitted to nerves, underrotated some jumps, but finished fifth, meeting his goal.
At the beginning of the season, when he said his goal was to finish in the top six.

And after “feeling really off” in practices Thursday and Friday, Andrei Rogozine of Richmond Hill, Ont., competing at his first world championship, decided to make his final performance of the year a memorable one. “I put all my thought and energy into that program,” he said.

He landed the second quad of his career, switched all of his elements around so that he landed a triple Axel in the second half of the program, and earned a wild standing ovation. He finished 13th.

“At first I was very nervous,” he said. “I almost threw up before the program. But I kept my composure. I went out and my scariest element was the quad toe. After I got through that, I had a good vibe with myself and I had a boost of energy on that jump and I just rode the wave all the way to the end.”

Chan, winning a third gold medal, but not in a blaze of glory, told television viewers: “I’m sorry I didn’t deliver a good program.

“I wanted to do it so badly. It is a two–program competition and I am thankful for the beautiful short program I did on Wednesday. Maybe I’m saving it for Sochi.”

He expected the noise of the crowd, but he had never experienced just how wild it could be, skating at a world championship in Canada.

As for Chan, he had a few anxious moments when things began to go awry during his routine to La Boheme. He had landed two strong quads at the beginning, but when he fell on the Lutz, it came as a bit of a shock, he said.

“I never fall on a triple Lutz,” he said. “I’ve never been in a situation where I had to pick myself up from it. Then, it was a bit of a battle.” At one point, he began to worry that he just might not win the title. “I was really really bummed,” he said. Then he forgot about it.

“It wasn’t easy but I’ll take a win and put it in my back pocket and really learn from it for next season.”

Fernandez said he knew this competition would be harder than Europeans, which he won, but he didn’t think it would be as hard as it was. At season’s end, he felt tired. And he made just enough mistakes that he, too, thought he would lose the medal he’d sought.

When he found he would get the bronze, he said: “I didn’t know what to do: jump up and down, cry, hug Patrick. I was so, so , so happy.”

Ten delighted media with his stories about starting out in Kazakstan in chilly rinks (think -17 degrees C), and so cold his mother would dress him up in three pairs of pants. “I looked like a cabbage,” he said.

He moved to train in Russia for seven years before heading to United States to work with Frank Carroll. Canadian Lori Nichol choreographed his programs to The Artist.

With Canada’s second medal of the championships, Chan said he was very exited about the new team event at the Sochi Olympics.

“I would say we are probably one of the biggest contenders to win gold,” he said. “I’d probably say we’re going to win the gold medal at the event.”