Patrick Chan says world title win 'wasn't a gift' from judges
Canadian skater Patrick Chan holds up his gold medal after winning the Mens Free Skate along at the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario on Friday, March 15, 2013. (DEREK RUTTAN/QMI AGENCY)
After Patrick Chan's freeskate program on Friday night, Canada's Minister of State for Sport, Bal Gosal, tweeted: "Is it me, or is @SkateCanada's @pchiddy getting better every time he skates?"
Gosal's tweet prompted one grizzled sports writer to reply: "It's you."
The fact is, @pchiddy as Chan is known on Twitter, has skated much better in the past than he did at Budweiser Gardens on Friday night in winning his third straight world title. The same for the 2012 world championships in Nice, France. When the scores were announced after the men's free at that competition at the Palais des Expositions, and Chan was declared the winner, many in the crowd booed and whistled.
In winning his last two world titles, Chan has been jeered by crowds and criticized in the media. The headline in the Chicago Tribune on Saturday declared: "'Home-ice' advantage boosts Chan to World Figure Skating title", the writer suggesting that "Chanflation" is what allowed the defending champ to recapture the gold — meaning that the judges are somehow under the Toronto native's spell, therefore the inflated marks. Chan said he went to bed following his freeskate a little "bummed out" over his flawed free, but felt better in the light of day and was ready on Saturday to strongly resist the suggestion that somehow his marks were artificially inflated and that the Cinderella Kid, the little-known Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, deserved the win.
"When I woke up I had tons of people come up to me and say I deserved to win", he said. "And I truly believe I deserved it. Did two beautiful quads, a beautiful program overall ...
"Chanflation? I don't believe in that," he added. "That's the most ignorant thing you can say. I don't believe there's any kind of inflation. If they (journalists) have a problem with it, they should talk to the judges, not blame me. I'm just going out there and doing my job. I definitely deserved every point I got. It wasn't a gift, they (the judges) didn't give it to me. I worked hard for it. And it was wide open for anybody to take. Denis could have won it. I think he made one or two mistakes in his program. I'm sure he's probably kicking himself today."
All fair points. Still, and this has to be somewhat troubling for Skate Canada, for the second straight year, Chan won the world gold without skating an exceptional freeskate (for him). In Friday's free, after nailing a quad-triple jump combination, he nailed another quad but then fell apart somewhat with falls on triple lutz and Axel attempts, as well as stepping out on a landing and turning another planned triple into a double. Of his three world titles, only the first, in 2011, did he win without any argument.
So, should Chan be worried about the 2014 Sochi Olympics given that has not skated to the ridiculously high level he set at the 2011 worlds in Moscow, when he set world records in the short and freeskate programs? Or, should he be thrilled with the fact that Friday's victory clearly demonstrated that the 22-year-old can win the Olympics without skating to his absolute potential — his overall package (technical ability combined with artistry) is that much superior to all the other skaters? Chan, of course, is buying into the latter.
"It is an extremely good feeling to know that the judges want me to win and they love watching me skate," he said, following a meeting on Saturday with David Johnston, the Governor General. "And it's great to have that in the back of my mind going into next year."
Unfortunately, there's another mustard sandwich Chan has to deal with heading into Sochi, that will only add to the pressure of competing there. No fewer than 14 times have Canadians won the world title in men's singles, and yet none have gone on to win at the Olympics. Chan, however, is convinced, especially after enduring a home Olympics in his first Games three years ago in Vancouver, that he'll end this run of frustration — despite the pressure, despite the flaws in his freeskate performances at the last two worlds. After Vancouver, with all the media and public adoration, he said Sochi should be "a walk in the park".
"I think Vancouver was like the Super Bowl and Sochi's going to be like a Conference Title," he said. "It's an away (game). For me I think it's going to be a lot less pressure."