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Chan hits another milestone in Liberty free skate

Messing hulks up; Miner channels Bogie

Patrick Chan of Canada with his coach Christy Krall at Liberty.
Patrick Chan of Canada with his coach Christy Krall at Liberty. (Klaus-Reinhold Kany)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(07/17/2010) - The Liberty firsts keep coming for Patrick Chan.

Saturday's Phantom of the Opera wasn't the best of free skates, but it featured a combination that's eluded him: a triple Axel, triple toe.

It marked the third time the Canadian champion has debuted a major element here, after a triple Axel (in 2008) and quad toe (Friday).

"Last year, I practiced triple Axel-triple toe for fun," Chan said. "As I said yesterday, the Axel isn't feeling too great. I'm going to talk to [choreographer Lori Nichol] about changing the pattern going in to it.

"But I'm glad I did [the combination], even if it didn't feel right, especially right after I fell on the quad. Now I know I can do it, even after a fall."

There were a few falls in Chan's re-tooled POTO, which he used to win his second consecutive world silver, including one on his opening quad and second triple Axel. But he attacked his jumps and step sequences and showed off an impressive camel-change-camel spin, earning 149.91 points.

About the changes in his free skate, Chan said, "It's the exact same music. Adding the quad off the top made it different. The entire slow part is changed; before, a lot of people didn't like it. They thought it was repetitive."

Chan swears by this summer competition, saying its early date lends impetus to his long hours of training.

"Competing here keeps me grounded," he said. "Elite skaters can easily get carried away and start thinking they're too good for competitions like this. People who can't come to worlds can come here and maybe see some of my best performances."

So what can we expect to see here next season -- a quad Salchow maybe?

"I don't think so," laughed Chan. "Sal is my worst jump."

Keegan Messing opened his Hulk free with a fine triple Axel, but fell on a quad toe.

The five foot, three inch Alaskan dynamo doubled a Salchow before hitting a strong triple Lutz, triple toe, and closed his program with a second Lutz. He took second with 141.45.

"He's been landing the quad in the program, in practice," said Ralph Burghart, Messing's coach. "It's not as consistent as we would like, but it's early. It will be ready when it matters.

"Keegan's goals are to make the Junior Grand Prix Final, be top five at nationals, and medal at junior worlds. Last year [junior worlds] was a disappointment; he was third until the last skater, and we felt he did a better job than the guy that won bronze [Artur Gachinski of Russia]."

Ross Miner, who withdrew from junior worlds due to an ankle injury, was third with an entertaining take on music from the Casablanca.

The Boston-based skater opened with a triple Axel, followed by a spectacular triple Lutz, triple toe combination. Miner carried the film's storyline, including the climatic shooting, throughout the program. He earned 127.77.

"I felt really good," Miner said. "It's my favorite movie; I had a program to this music before [as a novice] and this time I wanted to do it right. This season, I'm really focusing on program components; I want to look like a senior man.

"Last year was sort of a case of bad timing. Every time I went on the ice things went well, and then in January I came up with a high ankle practicing the triple Axel. Now I'm beyond that and I'm being positive."