BEIJING — Canada’s Patrick Chan showed just how much difference a quad can make.
The 19-year-from Toronto captured gold in men’s singles at the Grand Prix final Saturday, landing his quad jump in both the short and long program for the first time in his career.
“It was a really, really big goal for me to do well at the Grand Prix final, so I was really happy with my performance,” Chan said on a conference call. “It wasn’t perfect but I got both quads out, landed at one competition, so I think it’s a good setup for world championships in March (in Tokyo).”
The two-time world silver medallist had never finished better than fifth at the final (2007 and 2008).
Chan, who previously got by on his superior skating skills before landing his first quad in competition at Skate Canada in October, opened his long program Saturday with a solid quad toe loop. Skating to music from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera,” Chan passed short program leader Nobunari Oda of Japan, to win the free skate with 174.16 points and 259.75 overall.
“The difference with Patrick this year, now that he is doing the quad, technically he’s at par or higher than the field,” said Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada’s high performance director. “When we were in Russia, technically he had the highest technical content of any competitor in that event.
“The next thing is just to be able to incorporate the level he’s trying to do through the whole program. It takes some time.”
Chan, who earned US$25,000 for the victory, won gold at Skate Canada and silver at the Cup of Russia to qualify for the final.
Oda won silver with 156.22 points in his free skate, which was marred by a fall during his opening quad toe loop, for a total of 242.81.
Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka came in third with 159.89 in his free skate and a total of 237.79. Reigning world champion Daisuke Takahashi of Japan was sixth.
Vanessa Crone of Toronto and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., moved up two spots to win bronze in ice dance with 139.74 points. Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S., took the gold. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, both of Waterloo, Ont., were fifth.
Andrei Rogozine of Richmond Hill, Ont., won bronze in junior men’s singles while Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch of Waterloo, Ont., were sixth in pairs.
American Alissa Czisny won the women’s gold.
Chan has never been a fan of long flights, but said he was well-prepared for this one to China, making sure he drank plenty of fluids and walked the aisles of the plane periodically — good practice, he said, for the world championships in March.
“I’ve really figured out how to overcome the jet lag and how to be comfortable on the long flight, how to keep myself busy,” he said. “I’m going to pretty much do what I did here when I go to Tokyo for worlds, so I’m really glad they had (the final) in China so I can have a bit of a test run.”
Crone and Poirier were Canada’s top entry in dance in the absence of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. The reigning Olympic and world champions took the Grand Prix season off while Virtue recovers from surgery on both her legs.
Crone is quietly hoping their bronze medal is the first sign they’re on pace for a breakthrough season.
“I think definitely it’s a possibility,” she said. “It’s something that we’re really striving for and we still have a lot of work to get through. We always want to be the best at the end of the season, so we just have to keep our heads focused and keep grounded and go for the goals we set at the beginning of the year and not change that.”
Crone said one of their goals had been just to qualify for the Grand Prix final.
“So this was kind of icing on the cake for us to come in third place,” she said.
Czisny, who won this year’s Skate Canada, performed a graceful triple Lutz, double toeloop opener followed by a powerful triple flip, double toeloop to George Winston’s “Winter and Spring”.
She finished third in the free skate with 116.99 points, giving her a total of 180.75.
“I was very happy to be able to stay on my feet today and very happy with my performance,” Czisny said. “Last year, being in this spot was only something I could dream of, but I’m glad I got here and my dream came true.”
Despite an ongoing left knee injury, Carolina Kostner of Italy was second with a season’s best 116.47 in her free skate, giving her a total of 178.60.
Kanako Murakami of Japan was a close third with 178.59 in her first senior Grand Prix final since moving up from juniors.