Figure Skating: From the Boards

And then there was Chan January 23, 2012

Have I mentioned that I *love* National championships? Yes, US Nationals because, well, I live here. But Nationals in general bring such a tension, such a pride, and such a sense of accomplishment that I can’t help but be invested, no matter what nation it is. A national title is a fulfillment of every skater’s dream, and the moments that bring us to our feat or tears to our eyes are magical here in a way nothing else is.

Fortunately for skating fans, there is plenty of Nationals buzz to go around this week. While the novice and junior skaters kick things off at US Nationals, I thought I’d take a moment to highlight our friends to the north and the moments they created.

So, basically, I wanted to talk about Patrick Chan.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. There was Tessa and Scott, and perhaps more notably, Meagan and Eric.

These two gave me that “THIS is what it’s all about” moment that Nationals is all about. I’ve loved their laser focus all season long, especially Meagan’s immense knowledge and understanding of the scoring system. They have such specific goals, and it seems they’re just checking them off, one at a time.

I’ll never forget their Kiss and Cry moment at Trophee Eric Bompard when Meagan realized that had, in fact, earned the necessary score to make the Grand Prix Final.

Here, the reaction to their near-flawless free skate, was even better. Seriously, if you haven’t seen the skate or the reaction, it’s a must. And to think, they both nearly gave up on the sport a couple seasons back! They’ve been a joy to watch, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Then, there was the ice dance event, likely the most touted in Canadian skating.

Olympic Champs Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir made some significant changes to both of their programs in preparation for their rematch with Meryl Davis and Charlie White at Worlds. However, those changes left them less than settled in both skates. More in the short dance than the free, but in both instances, they fell short of their season bests which, at Nationals is unusual (see “Patrick Chan).

I’ve been skeptical of this free dance all season, not because it isn’t visually stunning or technically demanding, but because it doesn’t seem to highlight their highest qualities. Still, to say that about a dance that can out-score Davis and White’s mesmerizing Waltz FD means they are one special ice dance team.

Their shakiness allowed for an interesting showdown between them and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje who, in my opinion, win this season’s “Most Improved” award. The have taken an amazing step forward and are in such a zone with their programs, they may just make a medal push at Worlds. It’s wonderful when a “signature program” like their Free Dance isn’t just beautiful, but actually helps push their skating forward. Only greater things can come from this in their future.

And I have to give an honorable mention nod to the brand new team of Piper Gilles and Paul Porier. This is their one and only competition for the season, because Piper won’t be released by US Figure Skating until May. Paul, if you remember, was the Canadian National Champion last year with Vanessa Crone.

Piper and Paul have electric chemistry, and technique that is shocking considering their newness. Now, the are still very new. That showed in some of the footwork. But, look out for this pair. They will be a factor next season and beyond.

And yes, then there was Chan. The same Chan that, according to my own poll after Russian Nationals, over 50 percent said would lose to returning Plushenko at Worlds.

Perhaps the 300+ points (including 101 in the Short Program alone) were a Canadian message to the world. But, regardless, we saw the brilliance of Patrick Chan and gained confirmation that, when clean, he is without a doubt the best men’s skating has to offer.

Feel free to present an alternate option, but only after watching this.

Yes, he still has something to prove, in that he is wildly inconsistent in his ability to go clean. But what is consistent is his ability to squeeze points out of every single moment, every single swipe of the blade. No man in the world right now can do what he does outside of the jumps, so when he adds a quad-triple to a second quad, it’s more than spectacular. He is elevating the level of skating, and that’s all you can ask of a world champ!

Congrats to all the medalists in Canada!

On to the next world-class skating event of the week…

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