Patrick Chan will go home with two silver medals, one from today’s men’s competition and one from the team event. “But I kind of wish it was different colours,” Chan said.
So much pressure. So much to do, at each step in a men’s Olympic program nowadays.
Yuzuru Hanyu is the new Olympic champion, all of 19 years old, the youngest in 66 years, but it didn’t look that way after he skated and made several uncharacteristic mistakes. He had swung the door wide open for Chan, who skated directly after him. All Chan had to do was walk through it.
But pressure fell on Chan’s shoulders just as much as on Hanyu’s and every other skater who faced the bright lights of the Iceberg Palace. Few of them found perfection. Chan delivered his patented and lofty quad toe – triple toe combo, then put a hand down on a quad toe. He staggered out of a triple Axel and put both hands down on the ice, doubled a Salchow that was the final element in a jump sequence, and even stumbled out of a double Axel at the end of his Four Seasons routine.
“We’re all human,” Chan said. “Even Shawn White makes mistakes. Unfortunately, I made one too many.”
Chan finished second in the free skate with 178.10 points, just .54 less than Hanyu. And he had four points to make up from the short program, so he finished second with 275.62 points. Hanyu won with 280.09.
Hanyu’s Toronto training mate, Javier Fernandez of Spain, lost a bronze medal when he inserted a triple Salchow late in his routine, and got no points for it. Even though he didn’t do it in combination, he’d done one singly before that, and so judges counted it as a combination. But he had already done three combos and the limit is three. So Fernandez got no points for the element, which is worth 4.62 points. He lost the bronze medal by 1.18 points to Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, who had disappeared for most of the season as he recovered from very serious infections, stemming from boot problems.
Ten won the bronze medal with 255.10 points, with Fernandez fourth. Tatsuki Machida of Japan actually finished slightly ahead of Fernandez in the long program, but ended up fifth overall. Daisuke Takahashi was sixth, buoyed by his high (and well deserved) component marks.
Kevin Reynolds found redemption in the free skate, which was far from perfect (he under-rotated two of his three quads), but decent all the same, after a tough season trying to figure out boot problems. He was 15th overall with 222.23 points.
“Tonight was a little bit of redemption,” Reynolds said. “I managed to stay on my feet.”
“It’s so difficult to come back from such a disappointing performance the day before. Practice this morning was one of the hardest practices of my life. I knew that my medal chances were gone. I didn’t sleep much last night, but I fought through it and that’s all I could do.”
Ten also didn’t sleep well, after struggling to a ninth-place finish in the short program. “I felt much better than yesterday,” he said. “Yesterday I felt slow. Today I was energized.” He blasted his previous season’s best by about 20 points in the free.
Hanyu fell on his opening quad Salchow, and then he stumbled out of a triple flip. He missed a triple Salchow that was part of a jump sequence. He seemed scattered and slower than usual. It was a hard fight.
In winning, Hanyu brought glory to coach Brian Orser, one of those Canadians who had failed to win an Olympic gold medal in 1988. But as a coach, Orser, working from his base in Toronto, has trained two consecutive Olympic champions now. His first student, Yu-Na Kim, won Olympic gold in Vancouver four years ago.
Chan said although disappointed, he’s proud of the way he handled the intense pressure all week. “I don’t know if I could have handled the pressure [a year ago] and skated this way,” he told a reporter. He was proud that he didn’t go insane. He fell 4.47 points short of gold and it will be “a lingering thought,” he said.
“I gave it my all, I swear,” he said. “I was close.”
Bobsledder Kaillie Humphries was watching and tweeted: “You inspire us all.” Well wishes flooded Chan’s twitter account.
Other interesting moments: Jeremy Abbott actually out finished Jason Brown in the free skate, after he ditched a quad attempt and skated for himself. He ended up eighth in the long program, while Brown made mistakes and finished 11th. Abbott earned higher technical marks than Fernandez.
Takahashi, skating at his last Olympics, and trying to overcome a knee problem, finished fifth overall after landing his quad on two feet, although it was one of his better attempts of the event. But he didn’t waste a note in his beautiful style and actually had the second highest component score of the long program, topped only by Chan. Takahashi edged Hanyu by .02 points in performance marks. There were no perfect 10s to be had by anybody.