Chan youngest to win men's national title

The Canadian Press
1/19/2008 11:38:53 PM
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VANCOUVER - The moment the music stopped, and the crowd climbed to its feet cheering, Patrick Chan pumped his fists in triumph.

The Toronto teenager put together a stunning performance in the long program to overtake defending champion Jeff Buttle and win the men's title at the BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships Saturday.

"The feeling of the crowd rising was phenomenal," said Chan, 17, who becomes the youngest Canadian men's champion. "I did not expect this. This whole season has been like a dream. I'm still in a trance right now. I guess that's the beginning of a feeling like a national champion."

Buttle, the three-time champion, knew the challenge he faced following Chan's skate. Things went sideways early when he stepped out of a triple toe and then fell trying to land a triple Axel.

"I was really disappointed I didn't get the fourth title," said Buttle, 25, of Smooth Rock Falls, Ont. "I've won the title skating worse than that. I'll take a good skate with second-place over a bad skate with a first place."

Chan was one of three new Canadian champions crowned on the same day on the Pacific Coliseum ice, which will host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

In pairs, the long wait ended for Anabelle Langlois when she and partner Cody Hay won the title while defending champions Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison battled their way back from fifth spot to finish second.

In dance, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir used a sensual, free program to score a 34-point victory over their nearest rival.

In the junior men's final, Elladj Balde of Pierrefonds, Que., won with 109.68 points. Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., was second with 104.15 points while Dave Ferland of Metabetchouan-Lac a Croix, Que., finished third with 100.22.

Langlois, 26, spent over a decade pairs skating with former partner Patrice Archetto but never won a Canadian title.

"It feels amazing," said Langlois, a native of Grand-Mere, Que., who now skates with Hay out of Barrie, Ont. "We worked so hard all year."

There wasn't near the suspense in the dance as Virtue, of London, Ont., and Moir, of Ilderton, Ont., easily proved to be the class of the field, scoring 209.09 points to win their first national crown.

With five-time champions Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon taking the year off the door was open for Virtue and Moir, who  were sixth at last year's world championships.

"You have to come compete and there's no free passes," said Moir. "We were focused and excited to skate in front of this crowd and hoping to set  the stage for a couple of years from now.

"This was a huge goal of ours. Best in Canada. I don't know if it's sunk in yet."

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., finished second with 175.61 points while Allie Hann-McCurdy of Orleans, Ont., and Vancouver's Michael Coreno were third with 173.86.

Buttle, an Olympic bronze medallist in 2006, showed Friday he wouldn't give up his title without a fight by winning the short program.

But Chan wasn't intimidated. After a shaky triple Axel he did a triple foot, triple toe. He won the long program with a score of 159.26 points, for a total of 232.68. Even hitting the boards near the end of his performance didn't spoil his day.

Chan's win came before a crowd of 5,783, the largest of the week, and he was already thinking ahead two years.

"It's a good preview to the Olympics," he grinned.

Buttle scored 149.05 in the long program to finish 229.85.

Shawn Sawyer of Edmundston, N.B., was third with 197.48 points. The top two finishers advance to the world championships in March in Sweden.

During the men's event, Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., became the first Canadian to land a quad toe, triple toe, triple loop combination in a competition.

"Everybody has been skating really well here," said the 17-year-old. "I had to put in the most technical difficulty just to keep up."

Langlois and Hay scored a razor-thin win in the pairs. They finished just 15-100ths of a point ahead of Dube and Davison with a score of 175.01.

  Langlois' jaw dropped and a look of disbelief crossed her face when the final marks were announced. The couple were nervous after Hay stumbled on a Salchow and she managed a double instead of a triple.

"I made a big mistake," said Langlois. "Coming off the ice I was a little frustrated with myself. I didn't want to get my hopes up."

This is the third season Langlois and Hay have skated together after becoming partners while training in Edmonton. They were third at last year's nationals and fourth in 2006.

Hay, who was born in Dawson Creek, B.C., and grew up in Grand Prairie, Alta., admitted to some nerves taking the ice after the crowd gave Dube and Davison a standing ovation.

"It helps me be more sharp, be more aggressive," he said.

For Dube, from Drummondville, Que., and Davison, from Cambridge, Ont., battling back to finish second was important

"We did what we needed to do to get up there," said Davison. "It's really important for our confidence and to go on with the rest of the season."

Heading into the final, the couple couldn't help but flash back to last year's Four Continents meet in Colorado Springs. It was there after a bad short program that Dube was slashed on the face by Davison's skate during side-by-side camel spins.

"We weren't necessarily thinking about it during the spin," said Davison. "It was not even being careful, it was being smart and staying focused."

Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Craig Buntin of Kelowna, B.C., finished third. It was an emotional result for Buntin, a three-time Canadian champion who was forced to look for a new partner after Valerie Marcoux retired at the end of last season. Duhamel is a former junior champion in singles.

Soon after Marcoux retired, Buntin learned his mother had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

"I was left sitting at home wondering what I was going to do with my life," he said. "For Meagan to come in with such a positive attitude, to come out flying and work so hard. ...I just think we are just a shadow of where we are going to be."

The top three finishers in pairs and dance go to the world championships.

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