Men's short marked by masterful performancesChan breaks own world record; Brown in running for first Grand Prix medal
Patrick Chan of Canada, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu and Jason Brown of the United States delivered some of those performances that can make history Friday night in the men's short program at Trophée Eric Bompard. Those three sit first, second and third, respectively, going into Saturday's free skate.
Chan beat his season's best by more than 10 points (98.52 to 88.10), just like Hanyu (95.37 to 80.40). Hanyu even got the highest technical element total of the field, 0.40 points ahead of Chan's (52.72 to 52.34). Brown also beat his season's best with 84.77. All three got a standing ovation in the process.
Chan skated a masterpiece to Rachmaninoff's piano music. He landed his quad-triple toe, triple Axel and triple Lutz with extraordinary amplitude. At the same time, his footwork was superlative, even more powerful than last season's.
He had said before the competition started, "I love my short program because there are not very many moves from my upper body. I do not have to throw my arms and hands here and there. I can concentrate on the subtlety of my feet and moves, especially during the slow movements.
"There are many silences in that program, too. Then you can really appreciate the skating and moving work in itself."
He credited his music for this.
"Rachmaninoff's music is so inspiring," Chan said. "There are not very many fast rhythms in there, yet there are many details into the music, which I like to emphasize. You need to remain concentrated all the time and think of what you are doing. This program has grown a lot since last year."
Chan garnered 9.25 for skating skills and performance, 9.29 for choreography, 8.93 for transitions and footwork (What about that effortless "free" jump at the end of his combination?) and 9.46 for interpretation (which could certainly be argued, on the other side).
Hanyu closed the event and hit the ice moments after Chan's standing ovation had finished. He displayed his characteristic body flexibility and great generosity on the ice. He landed a quad toe loop, triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe. His body took every rhythm from his music, appropriately titled "Parisian Walkways." (Are they that harsh to the ear?) His components scores were, however -- appropriately so, it seemed -- 0.70 below Chan's, which accounted for the difference overall.
"I had no misses tonight," Hanyu said. "Still, I have things to improve in my spins and steps to get higher levels."
Brown was not known in Paris before he started his short program. He was second to skate Friday night. Two minutes and 40 seconds after he hit the ice, he was a Parisian hero. The 18-year-old landed his triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe and a masterful 'Tano triple Lutz. His spins, his jumps, his steps were like a piano masterclass, as they seemed effortless.
With one edge only, Brown would have crossed the ice in pure delight tonight, so much energy he displayed. Throughout his short program, he showed that rare talent to go to the end of every one of his movements, offering his whole body possibilities at each step. He mastered his body the way Toller Cranston used to, and his inspired joy was reminiscent of Janet Lynn's.
"That crowd was amazing," he said with his unique, enthusiastic style. "You finish your program and you bow to the judges, and when you turn around you discover all the support!" he said.
Brown got a standing ovation and a round of American flags for his perfect program. Never could have one thought that there were so many American flags in attendance in Paris!
The rest of the field had a rather rough showing, especially compared to the three top contenders.
Han Yan, the young Chinese prodigy who won Cup of China, tumbled on the triple toe of his combination. He garnered 84.34 pts, just 0.3 pts behind Brown.
Home crowd favorite Florent Amodio did land his quad Salchow and triple Axel, two jumps he had not mastered since he changed coaches last summer. He, nonetheless, completely missed his triple Lutz-triple toe, simply landing a double Lutz instead. Amodio received 73.65 points altogether.
Michal Březina, the Czech competitor, was certainly also hoping for a better showing. He successfully landed his quad Salchow and triple flip-triple toe but fell heavily on his triple Axel, and his program suffered from a clear lack of stamina. He got 71.91 pts (nonetheless, his season's best), good for sixth place, ahead of Nan Song of China and Sweden's Alexander Majorov, who completely missed his performance.
At the end of the day, it was also shown that Chan had beaten his personal best as well and, hence, the world record of points ever awarded for a short program.
"The icing on the cake," he said in laughter. "My dream would be to beat it at the Olympics!"