Is eight titles enough for Patrick Chan? Probably too soon to say, at least in his mind. But the mere mention of the fact his name now stands alongside one of Canadian skating’s legends (Brian Orser) … well, the wide grin that accompanied that thought spoke volumes. “It’s so special. To be at that (level of) credibility in Canada, to have eight national titles, it’s amazing,” Chan said after matching the great Brian Orser’s haul of national titles, won consecutively in the 1980s. “To now be considered one of those guys, it’s mind blowing.”
Truth be told, Chan was not nearly as good as he showed in winning Friday’s short program. But he put two clean quads on the board, landed one triple Axel, and admitted he was “gassed” by the time his second Axel attempt rolled around, which he turned into a double. Still, his 192.09 free skate score pushed his overall total to 295.67, easily outdistancing the rest of the field by nearly 60 points. More importantly, Chan believes it has put him in the right headspace for the rest of the season, after his Grand Prix’s that were a rollercoaster of emotions and results.
“I feel happy. It’s been a great week, such a good learning week,” he said. “It’s what I needed going forward for the rest of the season, to Four Continents and Worlds. I’m going to remember a lot of things from this week to help me down the road.”
A logjam of five skaters entered the night to contest the other two medals — and the second available spot for the World team in Boston. Liam Firus (237.20) emerged with the silver medal, edging Kevin Reynolds (236.18) by just a little more than a point. Firus was 1-for-2 in the quad department and that, combined with an improved level of presentation, was enough for him to squeeze past Reynolds. A year ago, he missed a spot on the World team, losing to Jeremy Ten by 0.18 points.
“I knew the score that Kevin put up and it was a big score,” said Firus. “My goal for this event was to show people how much I’ve improved. It wasn’t my best skate today, but it was definitely showing people that I have improved as a skater both technically and artistically.”
Nobody was more surprised — and pleasantly so — to land on the podium than Reynolds, the national team veteran who withdrew from the free skate at least year’s nationals because of injury and had to go through the Challenge qualifying route to get here. But here he was, a wide grin on his face as he talked about the kind of free skate he has not had in a very long time. “I didn’t think this was going to even be a reality,” said Reynolds, who had merely hoped for a top five finish that would put him back on the national team. “To be back on the podium is a huge accomplishment for me and I’m very pleased.”
Off the podium in fourth was defending champion Nam Nguyen (227.69), who could not recover enough from falls on both of his planned quads in his free skate.