The men’s short program in Vancouver

VANCOUVER

From the mists of Vancouver finally emerged Patrick Chan. And he is shedding some rust.

“It’s slippery,” he said, after he fell on his opening quad toe loop, then sliding unceremoniously on his side. Thinking on his feet, he added a triple toe loop to his triple Lutz, but then stepped out of a triple Axel.

But, oh, those wonderful feet. Nothing like it. We have missed this Patrick Chan.

Chan still leads with 90.98, a rather healthy 4.78 points ahead of Kevin Reynolds, who meant to do a quad Salchow – triple toe loop, but it turned into a triple-triple, still getting him 9.30 points. He edged Chan on the technical mark, and was well behind on components.

In third place is bubbly Keegan Messing, who descended from the rather chillier Alaska, looking for an Olympic spot. There are only two of them. As Roman Sadovsky says, it’s a “free-for-all” for that second spot.

And that newly minted Sadovsky, always thought to be a pretty but not a technical skater. Sadovsky was the ONLY man to attempt two quads in the short. Sadovsky lost a GOE or two on his quad Salchow –triple toe loop, but it still earned him 13.09 points. And for the first time in his life, he landed a quadruple toe loop in a competition, getting 8.59 for it.

“It’s a good step up for me,” he said.

He had been working on a quad toe loop just before he found out – at the last minute – that he was going to Skate America in Lake Placid, so he took that jump out, because he didn’t feel it was ready. If he’d only had another week of training, it would have been there. Sadovsky doesn’t believe it makes a lot of sense to try a quad if it’s not totally ready: it erodes confidence when you miss it.

It was a good experience for him nonetheless. He had never competed at a senior Grand Prix before, and there he was skating with Nathan Chen and all the rest.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself, hoping that I could skate the best that I could, but I wasn’t completely ready, “ he said.

Now he has the training behind him.

Sadovsky underrotated and fell on a triple Axel, but he said he just didn’t quite get the takeoff. “But I had it there,” he said. “I had the right mindset but it didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to.”

Indeed, Sadovsky has been through a lot over the past four years. Then, he was the smallest skater in the group, now he’s one of the tallest. He isn’t sure just how tall he is, and throws out six feet. Some think he is taller.

“I had maybe last year and the year before where I was really up and down when I just really wanted to skate with a bang, really,” he said.

He admits he’s going all in with two quads, trying to earn that second Olympic spot. Hoping and thinking that will help him out.

“People always said I was a good skater, but I never quite matched the group technically,” he said. “So now I feel like I’ve stepped up the game with two quads in the short and if I can do more in the long….”

Sadovsky is in seventh place with 78.72 points, behind Elladj Balde, Nam Nguyen and Nicolas Nadeau. Only Balde had no quad.

Most heartbreaking moment of the day: Liam Firus, an Olympian four years ago, is in only ninth place after a strange replay of an incident that plagued him in the short program last year.

Last year a suspender came undone at the end of a spin – a huge distraction – and everything went wrong in the program. He ended up seventh, off the national team. He had won a medal he previous three years.

This time, a pant strap came undone. Firus looked down, saw it, stopped skating, ripped it off, shoved it in his pants – nobody wants a program-stop deduction – and then tried to sail into his triple Lutz-triple toe loop combo. But the distraction hobbled him. He turned out of the Lutz, and couldn’t do the second part. “I wasn’t focused at all,” he said.

He’s in ninth place and came off the ice, understandably upset.

“Unfortunately, I think that Olympic dream might be over,” he said, sadly.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he added, his voice breaking. “It’s just bad luck. I did everything I could. But everything was just out of control. It ‘s happened two years in a row.

“The Lutz-toe would have put me in first or second.” He’s now hoping for a spot on the Four Continents or world team, if he can redeem himself in the free.

Chan remains hopeful. He knows that missing competitions last fall contributed to his effort last night. “It’s just getting out more to compete more,” he said.

“Unfortunately I spent time during the Grand Prix season in a different way,” he said. “I’m kind of finding the right place for myself, which is also a big part of skating. I’ll just make the best of today.

‘”I’m excited for tomorrow as opposed to dreading it. That’s a big bonus.”

This event will serve as good training for him.

Chan admitted that nerves kicked in because this event is only his second of the season. “But that’s where I can look back on my experience and look back at the 15 nationals I’ve been to and even world championships and it’s not a race. It’s just going along, with my process, how I want to do it.”

Chan said he fell on his quad because his right arm was already in front of him while he launched and his body wasn’t square. So the jump didn’t have much height or lightness. This heavier, into-the-ice feeling could have caused the trip. Chan skates by feel.

“It was a bit of a shock,” he said. “But you know what? I got up and recovered.”

This year has taught him a strategy: he goes week by week. He won’t look too far ahead and “stress yourself out for no reason.”

He still dreams of doing that quad combo with a “swish.

“That’s what we live for,” he said. “And I think I lost that a little bit. I kind of got pulled away and pulled in many directions.

“But I think I’m starting to find it again.”

 

 

 

 

 

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