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Friday rinkside at world championships

Chan stays his ground; indecision costs Joubert

Even though the men's title has been decided, there is still some acrimony between Canada's Patrick Chan and France's Brian Joubert.
Even though the men's title has been decided, there is still some acrimony between Canada's Patrick Chan and France's Brian Joubert. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(03/27/2009) - It's the morning after, and Patrick Chan is still talking.

Canada's 18-year-old silver medalist, whose frank opinions and surprising drive to express them has delighted reporters all week, held court in the media room. Mostly, he ruminated on his free skate scores versus those of -- you guessed it -- Brian Joubert's.

"You're kidding," he said, when told the judges awarded Joubert, the 2007 world champion, slightly higher program component scores. (The Frenchman got 76.80 points to Chan's 76.10.) Joubert ended up with an overall score of 151.57 for his program, versus 155.03 for Chan, and had to settle for the bronze medal. Previously, he had won three silvers.

"That's bad. That's disappointing, really disappointing. I hope they realize it real soon. I mean, c'mon, I was watching Brian and I told Michael Slipchuk [Skate Canada's high performance director] 'Are you serious? This is his program?' There's no comparison, even with the fourth or fifth [place] skater."

So, Patrick, tell us how you really feel.

Actually, Chan shouldn't have been too surprised, considering Joubert's program components -- what figure skating people used to call "the second mark" -- also beat out the supremely artistic Jeffrey Buttle's at the world championships last season. It was the quad-less Canadian's technical scores that enabled him to bring home gold.

Chan did say he'd ask his choreographer, Lori Nichol, what she thought of his performance before making up his mind completely.

"She's the greatest," he said. "Maybe I didn't perform [well]. She'll know."

A moment later, though, he was back on track.

"Put mine, Evan [Lysacek]'s or Tomas Verner's program near Brian's, and it's pretty obvious . . . I bet if Brian had better footwork and programs and worked on his spins, and had that quad, he would have took it home," he said. "You don't need that quad."

Maybe not, but the teen said he's already reserved a spot in his free skate for the jump and plans to train it in the off-season.

"If I don't put the quad in next year, people will say, 'Alright, Patrick, you got to put it out,'" he mused.

In the two skaters' so-called war of words, Joubert has said comparatively little. At times, he's seemed a bit bemused by all the fuss, saying, "I really don't care about this." And at least Chan was magnanimous in victory.

"I'm not the type of person to laugh in his face . . . Like Evan [Lysacek] said [in the press conference], you win some, you lose some, and [Joubert] lost some. At least he has a [world] medal in every color now."

Last-minute change burns Joubert
Joubert came to L.A. planning to include two different quads, a toe loop and a Salchow, in his free skate and practiced his program accordingly. But after landing his first jump, the quad toe, the 24-year-old skater decided against the Salchow, moving straight on to his triple Axel, triple toe loop combination and a second triple Axel. It was all downhill from there.

"I made a big mistake; I changed my program before I came on the ice," he said. "I didn't do two quads, and after I missed my second triple Axel, I was a little lost on the ice."

Most coaches say improvising programs isn't wise, and it hasn't worked for Joubert in the past. He dropped to sixth place at the 2005 World Championships in Moscow after trying a similar tactic. But the Frenchman said this time, he's learned his lesson.

"I learned a lot from this; it won't happen again," he said. "The beginning of my season was very bad [with equipment problems]. That's why I was not so confident as I can be. For next season, I have to be ready in September, like I was in 2007."

More results are in
Based on the men's event here, the United States and Japan qualified three men for the 2010 Olympics. Canada, France, Czech Republic, Italy and Russia each gained two entries.

A brilliant sixth-place free skate from Denis Ten, just 15, lifted him from 17th after the short to sixth overall, earning Kazakhstan two spots as well.

Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Slovenia, Ukraine and Poland qualified one skater apiece.