LONDON, ONTARIO – Canada’s Patrick Chan won his third consecutive men’s title at the World Figure Skating Championships on Friday, even though it was Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten who captured the free skate final.
But Chan’s already rocky season came within an ice shaving of ending in disaster after he crashed twice.
Delighting a crowd of home-nation supporters, Chan took the overall crown with 267.78 points to edge unheralded Ten, who was second on 266.48. Spain’s Javier Fernandez, the European men’s champion, was third with 249.06.
“It was a battle after I fell but I am going to take that and put it in my back pocket and learn from it for next season,” Chan said.
Chan dominated the short program on Wednesday with Ten finishing second, but in the free skate performance, it was Ten who was triumphant with 174.92 points to 169.41 for Chan and 169.05 for Yuzuru Hanyu.
“I can’t believe I won a medal. It’s like a dream I am still sleeping in,” said Ten, a descendant of Korean general Min Keung Ho.
It was the seven-point cushion that Chan enjoyed going into the free skate that enabled the Canadian to become the first to win three world men’s titles since Russian Alexei Yagudin from 1998-2000.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, runnersup at worlds the past two years, took the pairs title by winning Friday’s free skate final.
Chan opened his “La Boheme” routine with the same bravado he showed in setting a new points record two days earlier with his short program.
He landed back-to-back, picture-perfect quadruple jumps but seconds later the program began to unravel. Chan first crashed on a triple lutz and then on his triple axel.
The quads, however, scored 30 points and that, combined with his unmatched mastery of performance and the short-program cushion, gave him the triumph.
“I’m a bit disappointed,” Chan said. “This is why it’s not easy to be an athlete. I just tried to make the best of it.”
Ten, who competed hurt much of the season due to various injuries, also opened with a quadruple toe loop.
He delivered two triple axels and stayed on his feet throughout a joyfully expressive performance set to “The Artist” and spectators rewarded the ecstatic Ten with a thunderous standing ovation.
Fernandez rose to the podium after finishing seventh in the short program, masterfully executing two different quads and scoring high performance marks for his charming Charlie Chaplin program.
Hanyu, ninth in the short, also clawed his way back up the ladder to finish fourth on 244.99.
Hanyu said he felt a sense of achievement, despite the disappointment of missing out on a podium finish.
“The main thing was to have fighting spirit,” said the national champion, who landed his opening quad toe loop, but under-rotated another quad.
“It wouldn’t have bothered me too much if I had taken a fall. I just tried to give it my all, even though I had (left) knee and (right) ankle pain.”
Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 world champion, was expected to contend for a medal, but finished sixth with 239.03 points.
Takahashi under-rotated one quad and his second was downgraded to a triple. He also fell on a triple axel and his free score was over 28 points off his personal best.
“In sports, results are everything. I am really disappointed,” said Takahashi. “My jumps have not been good since I arrived here and that was a big concern. I won’t let myself forget how disappointing this feels.”
At these last worlds before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, competitors look to stake early claims to next year’s Olympic podium and post results that will earn their countries the most entries possible for Sochi.
Canada and Japan will each have three men on the Olympic roster based on results Friday.