“The Canadian fans help me to be more focused, concentrate more and they lift a lot of pressure,” Chan said afterward. “Today I had no luck, just a lot of hard work that paid off. This feels almost as great as the Vancouver Olympics. Setting a new world record is just the icing on the cake.”
The men’s competition, which not only crowns the world’s best but also determines how many skaters each country may send to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, concludes with Friday’s free skate.
American hopes of earning a third Olympic spot for its men appear in jeopardy following U.S. National Champion Max Aaron’s eighth-place finish — impressive in several respects — combined with the 14th place of fellow American Ross Miner, who fell on his opening jump.
In order to earn a third Olympic spot, the two-man U.S. delegation must finish the World Championships this week with a combined placement of 13 or less. Heading into Friday’s free skate, Aaron and Miner’s standings total 22. That’s considerable ground to make up among the field of 35.
Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten Denis, 19, was the surprise performer of the night, opening with a beautiful quadruple jump in his program set to music from “The Artist.” Following a series of more accomplished skaters who fell or stumbled in succession, Ten executed every element in his program without a single hitch and brought his hands to his face in disbelief when his score (91.56) was posted.
It seemed an impossible mark to top.
Daisuke Takahashi, 26, the 2010 world champion, fell short (84.67) despite recovering nicely from a two-footed landing on an under-rotating quad.
Then came Chan, Canada’s reigning and six-time national champion and the overwhelming favorite of an unapologetic crowd.
He proved worthy of its adulation, gliding over the ice rather than working against it. He opened with a quadruple toe, triple-toe combination that seemed effortless. Then came a triple axel-triple Lutz. These weren’t discrete, daring jumps. Chan made them unspool seamlessly from his spins and artful footwork that stitched the program together.
Scored in third place was fellow Canadian Kevin Reynolds, a mop-topped redhead who set the standard for boldness as the only man to perform two quads. The second wasn’t part of Reynolds’s scripted program, though he had vowed to add it if his opening sequence went well. While not fully realized, the quad toe he inserted midway through the program got only a slight deduction, and he finished with 85.16.
“We love you Kevin!” a section of young girls squealed from the stands.
Much had been expected of reigning European champion Javier Fernandez, 21, of Spain, following the four quads he landed to claim the title in January. Skating to music from “The Mask of Zorro,” Fernandez opened with beautiful quad salchow, as planned, but pulled up on an intended triple axel, delivering a single rotation instead. He salvaged matters with back-to-back triples and elegant lines, placing seventh overall (80.76).