Chan wins Four Continents figure skating championships

Associated Press

2/11/2012 2:58:20 AM

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Shaking off a poor morning practice session, world champion Patrick Chan nailed his men's free skate program on Friday to win the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

The Canadian from Toronto, also the 2009 winner, had a season-best 185.99 points to take the title with 273.94 points.

"This whole week was a big test for me," Chan said. "It wasn't easy, and it wasn't like I just walked in and thought I was going to have it in the bag. Coming into the long (program), I was very unsure and very nervous -- more nervous than I've been in this past year and a half.

"But with the program, I just went with the flow. I knew that, if I just let things go, it would happen the way I wanted it to."

Earlier, two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan won the women's short program.

Chan easily outpointed Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, the Vancouver Olympics bronze medallist and defending Four Continents champion. Takahashi earned 161.74 points in the free skate and 244.33 overall.

Takahashi was unable to stick to his program, turning a triple axel into a double early in his routine, but was still pleased with his showing.

"I missed two jumps, and my performance was not so good, but I am still happy," Takahashi said. "Overall, my performance (for the competition) was not bad, but I have many points to improve. I just need to continue to practice and work hard."

Chan spent the afternoon trying to settle his nerves by walking around downtown Colorado Springs -- the city where he trains -- and trying to regroup after a shaky morning practice.

"This week, I learned a lot about not getting hung up on little things from practice or on feelings from off the ice," Chan said. "This morning's practice was great for me, actually. I needed the mistakes to kind of wake me up, get me back on my feet and remind myself that this is not a walk in the park."

American Ross Miner, the 2012 U.S. bronze medallist , survived a fall in the free skate to post a season-best 146.34-point score and earn the bronze with 223.23 points. He narrowly edged compatriot Adam Rippon, the 2012 U.S. silver medallist and 2010 Four Continents champion, for a spot on the medal stand. Rippon had a season-best 146.63-point score to finish at 221.55.

"The goal for me coming in was for a new season's best," said Miner, who will sit out next month's World Championships because the United States can only send two skaters to the event in Nice, France. "(Medaling) was just the cherry on the top, the icing on the cake. It wasn't actually my best performance, but my run-through and my coach running around and trying to murder me obviously paid off."

In the women's short program, Asada's 4-minute routine was clean enough to earn a score of 64.25 points, just ahead of 2012 U.S. champion Ashley Wagner at 64.07. Japan's Kanako Murakami, the 2010 World Junior champion, was third with 63.45 points.

The only hitch to Asada's program came on her first jump, a triple axel rare for women, which she was unable to land cleanly.

"My performance was good, except the triple axel in the beginning," Asada, who won the event in 2008 and 2010, said through an interpreter. "I want to take this as a learning experience and skate well tomorrow. My biggest goal of this competition is including the triple axel, and at least I tried it. It wasn't perfect, but I'm pretty happy to land the triple axel."

Asada, the 2010 Olympic silver medallist , wasn't the only member of her team who enjoyed the day. Her coach, figure skating Hall of Famer Nobuo Sato, will be honoured by U.S. Figure Skating at the World Arena before the men's free skate.

Wagner wobbled a bit while landing her first triple flip-double toe loop combination, but still managed her highest short program score in international competition.

"I'm extremely pleased," Wagner said. "I had a wobbly triple loop in the warmup, so I'm happy I did such a strong one in the performance. I think it's the best I've ever scored internationally, which for me is huge.

"This whole Grand Prix season, in the short program I don't think I scored higher than 55. So, to up the ante by nine points I don't think is too shabby."