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Chan captivates crowd with mesmerizing skate

Brown captures bronze after another strong program in Paris
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From the moment he stepped on the ice in Paris, Patrick Chan was the embodiment of skating perfection. Over the course of two days, he established new world scoring records for the short program, free skate and overall score, walking away with the gold by more than 31 points. -Getty Images

Patrick Chan of Canada won the Trophée Eric Bompard on Saturday night in Paris with a record-breaking performance and what might be his cleanest program ever. He amassed a personal best and world record of 196.75 points for his free program (100.25 for the technical elements). Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu came in second after a rough, but solid, performance. Jason Brown capped off his short program with a third-place finish.

Performing last, Chan opened his program with a masterful quadruple toe-triple toe and followed with a second flying quad toe, triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple Salchow, triple Lutz, triple loop and triple flip-double toe. Not one single element was missing. His flying sit spins got a Level 4 while his other two received a Level 3. Most of his technical elements were greeted by a +1 GOE (grade of execution). His components were superlative -- ranging from 9.39 for transitions to 9.79 for interpretation. What else can be said when you have seen perfection live?

Anyone doubting Chan's abilities should watch his feet while he skates. They dance from the first to the last second of his programs, playing with the light and the ice alike. If there was a world championship for skating feet, there is little doubt that Chan's would win it.

"Today was quite a challenge for me," Chan said. "I had done very well in short programs in the past, but I had some trouble with my free programs -- for instance at the 2012 and 2013 Worlds in Nice and London -- that it made me a bit nervous tonight. We have some many quads in our programs nowadays that I took the time to breathe between my elements in order to avoid being tired too quickly."

Hanyu, who trains in Toronto with Brian Orser, took the silver medal. During the 2012 world silver medalist's last practice session in the morning, Hanyu had been an incredible sequence of quads and triples, delivered with the precision of an electrical screwdriver. However, his free program to Romeo and Juliet was not quite the same, as Hanyu opened with two major mishaps. He fell on his opening quad and touched his hand down on the landing of his second one before regaining his composure for the rest of his program.

Hanyu is always on the move, in a personal dynamic that is often much faster than his music itself. Sometimes, when you rush too quickly to achieve your goals, you need a fall to calm yourself down. That is what may have happened to Hanyu tonight.

"I had too much energy in my body when I went for my quad Salchow, and I had to calm down," Hanyu explained.

After his fall, he delivered the rest of his performance with a fantastic rotational speed, accompanied with his trademark generosity.

His following elements were superlative, and he was much more present in them. His GOEs did reflect this, as he got +2 for his two triple Axel combinations -- earning him nearly 29 points for these two elements alone.

Brown, who took the rink by storm Fridaywith his Prince short program, had a rough practice session Saturday morning. Tonight, though, he delivered one of those exhilarating performances people never forget. He had to settle for a triple Axel to double toe instead of a triple but managed to replace the combined triple toe with his triple flip later in his program. Brown looked for his points, element after element. Not only was his program technically strong and well mastered, but it was exceptionally and artistically wise, allowing the young champion to go beyond himself in quest of his human ideal. That is priceless in any sport, maybe even more so in figure skating.

Brown got his second standing ovation -- the first of the day (the second one being for Chan) -- and his first senior Grand Prix medal.

"I praise Rohene [Ward] (his choreographer) for choosing that piece of music," Brown said. "It's a very challenging program for me, but it pushes me in so many different ways, both physically and artistically.

"It's so exciting for me to be on the podium with two incredible guys," Brown concluded with his broad, ear-to-ear smile afterward.

China's Han Yan had to fight to skate to the end of his program. He started by falling on his opening triple Axel but quickly replaced his combined triple toe after his quad toe. He put a hand on the landing of his triple loop and singled his final triple Lutz. He seemed completely lost after his change-of-foot sit spin, which he ended somewhat early. He finished with 61.38 points for his technical elements -- far behind his potential. Obviously, his program lacked consistency, especially in the second half. It did reflect in the components he got, ending the program with only the sixth-highest total of the field after earning 68.5 points.

Florent Amodio went on for a catastrophic performance. He tripled his opening quad Salchow, then fell on his planned quad-double toe combination and again on his triple Axel. He then tried to go for the safer side but could only land a triple Salchow before the end of his program. He totaled only 48.0 points for technical elements.

Amodio explained several times since he switched coaches at the end of last summer that he needed to relearn all his jumps. He might need more than just a couple of months to reestablish his mastership, but he and his coaching team should be trusted.

Michal Březina, from the Czech Republic, seems to have hit the bottom. This Trophée Eric Bompard will remain as an off and disappointing competition overall for him after finishing in fifth place. His programs, which used to be highly proteinated in the past, were even lacking consistency this time. After hitting rock bottom you can only rebound, and he will hopefully.

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