Patrick Chan looks as good as ever, wins ninth Canadian title

Ottawa Sun Sports Columnist Tim Baines

By Tim Baines, Ottawa Sun

Patrick Chan gets some air during his free program at the national skating championships at TD Place in Ottawa last night. Chan won his ninth Canadian title. (Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia Network)

Patrick Chan gets some air during his free program at the national skating championships at TD Place in Ottawa last night. Chan won his ninth Canadian title. (Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia Network)


Once again, for another year, Chan is The Man.

Magnificent. Elegant. Graceful. Confident. All with a touch of his teen, worryfree, carefree self thrown in. Yep, Toronto’s Patrick Chan, who was born in Ottawa, was all of that Saturday night. There’s little doubt about it, he’s still the king of Canadian figure skating.

He’s gotten kind of used to wearing the crown — his men’s title at the Canadian Tire national skating championships at The Arena at TD Place is his ninth — a string that started in 2008 in Vancouver and was interrupted in 2015 in Kingston only because he took the year off (the event was won by Nam Nguyen) to get a break following the Olympics.

Chan had it going on as he skated and the audience felt it, showering him with applause and affection.

Skating to A Journey, a significantly meaningful composition by six-time Canadian pairs champ Eric Radford, Chan performed brilliantly, scoring 205.36 in his program for a 296.86 total. He nailed a Quad Salchow, a jump he’s added to his program this season.

“That’s what I’ve been looking for, that was my goal this competition,” he said. “Skating a clean program is the goal, that’s the end goal at worlds, but the goal this weekend was to try the new things I’ve talked about off the ice and getting my mind in the right place.

“I was late in the music, but I was able to have that calm conversation in my head to just tell myself to not push harder and catch up in the music because that’s when you end up wasting more energy.”

It’s been an incredible run for the 26-year-old, who’s been dazzling audiences for what seems like forever. And while there are some hiccups — Chan talked Friday after the short program about capturing his inner 16-year-old. As a teen, he said, he didn’t worry about what may happen, there were no what-ifs.

“Nationals is the one event of the year where I have more expectations,” he said. “I hold myself to a higher standard. It’s midway through the season, I’ve had three major events under my belt. So you have expectations on yourself. Nine titles is nice, it sets myself up for the even number of 10. It would be really cool having that going into the (2018) Olympics. I get to enjoy this now and let it sink in.”

Finishing second was Coquitlam’s Kevin Reynolds, who’s become a bit of a cult hero with Japanese skating fans for his resemblance to Crono, a character from the role-playing video game, Chrono Trigger. Reynolds scored 174.01 for a 255.77 total.

Despite a fall on an early Quad, Toronto’s Nguyen put down a very good performance, scoring 164.52, for a 240.60, and finishing third.

Earlier in the evening, a local hero, Aylmer’s Joseph Phan, had some sensational elements but also had to deal with a couple of miscues and finished 11th.

Keegan Messing, who has dual citizenship with the U.S. since his mother was born in Edmonton, put down one of the better performances of the night, skating to Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther. Messing, who says he got into figure skating because of Elvis Stojko, moved up in the standings with a 158.95 in his free program, for a 231.04 total. Another program greeted with plenty of enthusiasm was one by Montreal’s Nicolas Nadeau, who skated to an Elvis Presley medley. He scored 165.40 for a 238.22 and wound up in fourth place.

Now, for Chan, it’s off to the world championships March 29-April 2 in Helskini . A year ago, Chan finished fifth at worlds, something he’ll hope to put in his rear-view mirror.

Duhamel and Radford win record sixth pairs national title

It has been an amazing six years for Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, two small-town Ontario kids who grew up and became Canadian figure skating superstars.

History will show Duhamel (Lively) and Radford (Balmertown) as the most decorated pairs competitors at the national skating championships. On Saturday, at The Arena at TD Place, they won nationals for the sixth time, breaking out of a logjam of legends with five.

Even with a couple of flaws, they scored 146.51 in their free program for a 227.23 total. Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch (208.24) were second, while Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro (198.74) placed third.

“It’s crazy when we think back to Moncton in 2012 and we won that first title, our lives changed that night,” said Duhamel. “We could never have imagined what was ahead. We’re hoping to add one more next year, lucky No. 7. Then we’ll leave it to somebody else to break our record.”

“It’s really kind of hitting me now what we have actually accomplished,” said Radford. “It’s stellar — more than we ever could have imagined, like so much of our career.

Duhamel stumbled on the very difficult Throw Quad Salchow and touched down on a Throw Triple Lutz.

“It was the first time we’ve actually tried a Triple Lutz combination in competition and when we landed that, I could feel a surge of energy,” she said. “As I was going into the Throw Quad, I was trying to force myself to calm down. It just pulled inside a bit. But I’m proud of the recovery from that to the side-by-side Salchow. It’s the first time we’ve tried that in three years, it’s what I fell on at the Olympics. So this is my mini-redemption. (The Triple Throw Lutz), I think I just got a bit quick and a bit excited. Those are things we can fix.”