Patrick Chan of Canada claimed the gold medal and his first ISU championships title in his debut at the 2009 Four Continents Championships yesterday at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. Evan Lysacek (USA) earned the silver medal, his fifth medal in this event while the bronze went to Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka.
“It’s just overwhelming," Chan said. "To think that it’s my first Four Continents ... I think I did pretty well for my first one. It’s great, because it also helps going to Worlds.”
Chan scored 160.29 points (80.19 element score/80.10 program component score) for his free skate and improved his previous personal best of 156.70 points. Overall he racked up 249.19 points, another personal record and the highest score any man has achieved this season so far.
Performing to a "Cello Sonata and "Piano Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninov, Chan nailed a big triple Axel right out of the gate. He went on to land a triple Lutz-triple toe and a triple flip. He popped his second intended triple Axel.
The 18-year-old rallied to land a triple Salchow, triple loop, triple Lutz-double toe-double loop and a double Axel and produced excellent spins and footwork. The three spins and the straight line step sequence were all graded a level four.
When his scores came up, Chan smiled broadly and waved to the crowd. “It (the program) wasn’t as good as nationals. My second triple Axel didn’t go here. I was thinking, ‘Great, I have another full minute to go without a triple Axel,'" he said. "But it was the whole package, not just the jumps."
Chan has high hopes for the World Championships. "I just have to go to Worlds and skate two clean programs like Jeff (Buttle) did (last year when he won)," Chan said. "I believe now if I do both triple Axels and all the other triples in my long program as well as a clean short, I think I could get a gold medal at the Worlds.”
Lysacek scored a season-best of 155.50 points (80.80/74.70) for his long program and had a competition mark of 237.15 points. “I feel good about my performance at this point of the season," he said. "I think I’m building momentum as the season goes on."
The two-time World bronze medalist (2005-06) stood in second place after the short program and skated first in the final group. He took the ice with a determined look and landed a quadruple toe loop, but then put down his hand on a cheated triple Axel. The 23-year-old didn’t let that error affect the rest of his performance to “Rhapsody in Blue.” He reeled off a triple Salchow, triple Axel-triple toe, triple loop, triple flip-double toe-double loop, a triple Lutz and another triple flip as well as level-four spins and level-three footwork.
"I had a little slow start, but I’m hoping to peak by the World Championships. This was just a good stepping stone for me,” Lysacek said. “The competition (Four Continents) has changed so much. A lot of the top athletes would pass and not come and they would take a rest and get ready for Worlds.
"Now it’s become sort of the super power competition for the men and for the ladies. With the exception of Brian (Joubert), I think the top contenders in the world were here and the strength in the overall competition was remarkable. So I’m proud to have won a medal among that difficult field.”
Kozuka earned 145.15 points (75.55/70.60) for his long program and was ranked fourth in that portion of the event. Overall he compiled 221.76 points. “Before my performance, I was a little bit nervous and I didn’t know how it was going to be, but I think it was good enough for me and I enjoyed it,” the 19-year-old said. “I tried the quad, but I fell, but I think it’s important to keep trying.”
Kozuka’s routine to “Romeo and Juliet” featured a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip, triple Salchow-double toeloop, a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop and two more triples. The Grand Prix Final silver medalist was awarded a level four for his three spins. He fell on his opening quadruple toe loop and landed forward on a triple Axel late into the program.
Nobunari Oda (JPN) came in fourth at 220.26 points and was third in the free skate. He landed seven clean triples, including a triple Axel-triple toe and a triple flip-triple toe. He fell on a quadruple toe loop attempt and stumbled on the second triple Axel.
Jeremy Abbott (USA) finished fifth. His routine included six triples, but he missed a triple Lutz attempt and doubled his planned quad toe (216.94 points). Vaughn Chipeur (CAN) was sixth with 212.81 points. Jeremy Ten (CAN) was seventh (207.27 points) and Brandon Mroz was eighth (196.78 points).