What a rollercoaster of a competition Skate Canada was. It started off with the first day where the two favorites in men's and ladies found themselves in the middle of the pack needing to rally, and it ended with both of them moving up to silver. The thrill of day two, though, was the performances delivered by the top five men in the final group. It was one of the most brilliant final groups at a Grand Prix we've ever seen.
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1. Chan defeats Hanyu
Up until the last 15 minutes of the competition, my big takeaway from Skate Canada was going to be Ashley Wagner's fantastic competition - which, don't get me wrong, is still a huge story coming out of the competition. But Patrick Chan's clean, albeit watered-down, free skate really turned my head. We knew coming in that Chan was not going to go full out on his technical content in the free (just one quad instead of two), but what we weren't expecting was that he would go clean on either program.
And indeed, beauty of a quad toe-triple toe, a fantastic triple axel (his nemesis jump), and six more clean triples later, he held off Yuzuru Hanyu's comeback to win gold. And there were some who questioned Chan's win - because Hanyu had a more difficult program - or his component marks - because Chan's overall free skate PCS were a whopping seven points higher than Hanyu's.
2. Was the scoring right?
To the point of difficulty, Hanyu still scored higher than Chan in TES (98.35 vs. 95.17), and it was only that close because of Hanyu's mistakes, given that Hanyu had much more difficult programs (three quads and two triple axels). The touchdown on the second quad, the singled triple toe, and the fall on the lutz cost him 8-10 points.
To the point of components, this was vintage Chan vs. experimental Hanyu. Chan knows how to do that program and how to do it well - and he did exactly that. The fact that he skated cleanly also boosts those component numbers. Hanyu, on the other hand, is exploring new territory. For me, his strength has always lied in the short, and his free skates have been less extraordinary. This season, though, his SEIMEI free skate is a complete departure from anything he's done before.
So that's to say that Hanyu's free is still a bit rough around the edges, whereas Chan's program is old hat, relatively speaking. Hanyu's exploration can only be good for him in the long run, though, and it'll be great to see the evolution of this program as the season continues.
3. Redemption on both fronts, and from the men
And really, when you look at what a messy affair the short programs were, the free skates were downright spectacular for the men. Chan and Hanyu both skated brilliant programs, but below that, Daisuke Murakami, Adam Rippon, Nam Nguyen, Timothy Dolensky, and Alexander Petrov all skated super well.
When your 7th-place free skate scores 150 points, that's a strong set of free skates. For reference (and always with the caveat that it's tough to compare across competitions), all of those scores would have been in the top 10 at Worlds. And in this case, my caveat is actually that scores tend to be higher at Worlds, which makes this stat even more impressive.