Japan misses out on gold at Grand Prix Final

Kyodo

Daisuke Takahashi saved his best until last with an epic free skate, but it was not enough to provide Japan with a bittersweet victory as world champion Patrick Chan of Canada held on to win the Grand Prix Final for the second year in a row on Saturday.

Chan botched both of his quads and fell on a triple lutz, but he still gave home fans plenty to cheer about in taking first place with 260.30 points, more than 11 points clear of 2010 world champion Takahashi.

“The quads were really good this week and especially good yesterday so it’s kind of funny how I kind of missed both of them,” said Chan. “But I did a lot of smart thinking and quick thinking on my feet. I never do a triple flip-triple toe and I kind of felt good so I decided to put in the flip and that helped me a lot.”

“It was better than (at the Trophee Bompard in) Paris and that’s what it’s all about, progress and getting better each time. The most important thing is it was exciting for me, Daisuke and Javier (Fernandez) and for the audience, and there is no better place to do it than in Quebec.”

Akiko Suzuki was also unable to knock short program winner Carolina Kostner out of top spot as the Italian world bronze medalist captured her first GP Final title with 187.48, topping a women’s field that was missing two-time former world champion Mao Asada.

Asada pulled out of the competition on Thursday and made a frantic dash back to Japan after learning that her mother Kyoko was critically ill. Kyoko, 48, died early Friday morning before Mao could make it back, casting a shadow over the competition and prompting an outpouring of condolences from the figure skating fraternity.

Skating to “Blues for Klook” by Eddie Louis, Takahashi put both hands on the ice on his opening quad, but recovered nicely to earn his highest free score of the season and with it a standing ovation from an appreciative Quebec crowd.

“I was in fifth place after the short program so the worst that could happen was that I would finish sixth,” said Takahashi. “I just went for it today and it was more about spirit than technique so I just tried to put everything out of my mind.”

“I was able to skate a good free program and the audience helped me along but the other guys are landing quads and I haven’t been able to succeed. The quad is letting me down and I have realized that I have to improve my technique.”

Spaniard Fernandez (247.55) took third and Sendai schoolboy Yuzuru Hanyu (245.82) landed a quad and went on to finish fourth on his Grand Prix Final debut.

“I was more surprised about messing up my triple salchow than how well I skated,” Hanyu said of his only major error on the night. “I think I messed it up because I couldn’t keep the momentum going. But I got that far and that has given me something extra to work on.”

Shimmering in a silver catsuit, Kostner skated a near-perfect program to Mozart’s Concerto No. 23, nailing five clean triples with just the slightest hand-down touch on another.

“I am so happy that I did not have major mistakes but have the feeling that I could have done better. I will enjoy tomorrow and the next days,” said Kostner. “Honestly when I came into this competition I felt not as good as everyone else because I don’t have a lutz in my program.”

“I still have some technical things to work on and I feel that I want to stabilize what I can do before I go into a program with a full head and lose myself.”

Suzuki touched the ice on a triple lutz and faltered on two planned triple sequences but was happy about her runner-up finish on 179.76.

“This is the best placement for me in the Grand Prix Final and I am very happy about that. My program could have been better as I did not skate my best program.”

Russian Alena Leonova was third with 176.42.

Elsewhere, Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy came from behind to beat short program leaders Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia and defend their pairs’ title with 212.26. Russia’s Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov were third and Japan’s Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran were sixth.

Japan’s Ryuji Hino and Keiji Tanaka finished fifth and sixth in men’s competition in the Junior Grand Prix Final won by American Jason Brown with 208.41. China’s Yan Han was second with 205.93 and Joshua Farris of the United States was third with 203.98.

The senior ice dance free dance wraps up the action on Sunday.

The Grand Prix Final features the top six skaters based on points accumulated over six competitions on the GP circuit