Skate Canada, the second stop on the Grand Prix circuit, gave us plenty of new faces in lofty places.
With some former champions returning to the top of the podium, it made for an intriguing mix of results.
While Canada’s Patrick Chan took home top honors in the men’s event for the second time in three years, that did not seem likely after the short program, where the 20-year-old fell three times and tumbled into fourth place.
Chan made up the gap and then some in the free, opening his program with a quadruple toe jump — his first ever landed in competition.
With a score of 239.52 points, Chan mined gold ahead of Japan’s Nobunari Oda, who claimed silver (236.52) and Adam Rippon of the U.S., who had to settle for the bronze with 233.04.
“After the short program, it was a little tough because I wasn’t sure about what went wrong,” Chan said. “I was a little hesitant [in the free] but just went with the feeling that I usually have in practice.”
Alissa Czisny of the U.S. mined Skate Canada gold for a second time with a commanding free skate to George Winston’s “Winter and Spring.”
Taking a page from Chan’s book, Czisny also rallied from a fourth-place standing after the short program.
“My performance was all about going out there and trying to show all the improvements that I have made over the past couple of months,” said Czisny, 23.
A combined score of 172.37 allowed her to outpoint Russia’s Ksenia Makarova (165.00), who took the silver, and Canada’s Amélie Lacoste (bronze, 157.26).
It was the first senior Grand Prix podium finish for both Makarova and Lacoste.
The pairs event was a close call.Russia’s Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze claimed gold (171.40) by the slimmest of margins over Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch (170.92).
It was the first senior Grand Prix title for Iliushechkina and Maisuradze, the 2009 World Junior champions.
“We’ve made a lot of changes in our training, especially in the way we train, and it worked out,” said Iliushechkina.
Moore-Towers and Moscovitch, who were last-minute fill-ins after Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison withdrew due to injury, won the free skating portion of the competition and skated into second 0.48 points behind the winners. The performance earned a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd
Bronze went to Canada’s Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, who scored 161.15 points and claimed their first senior Grand Prix medal.
Injury also removed Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir from the competition. Their absence provided teammates Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier an opportunity to steal the spotlight.
The young Canadian duo upended Britain’s Sinead Kerr and John Kerr — who were fifth at the 2010 World Championships — in a mild upset.
Crone and Poirier, who trailed the Kerrs by a fraction of a point after the short dance, were elated to nail down their first-ever senior Grand Prix triumph.
The Canadian team earned 154.42 points, followed by the Kerrs (149.80) and Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein from the U.S. (139.05). It was the first senior Grand Prix medal for the American duo.
“Vanessa and I are both really proud of how we performed [the free dance],” said Poirier. “This result is going to keep motivating us to keep pushing ourselves.”
Originally published in February 2011