BOSTON—Biggest ovation: Javier Fernandez.
Biggest mark: Javier Fernandez.
Biggest smile: Javier Fernandez.
By quad, by God: Three of them, pristine, exclamatory, for defending and again world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain. Plus seven clean-as-a-whistle triples.
(Big happy face at the end-boards from coach Brian Orser.)
Imperfection for Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, a rarity in this season of record-breaking magnificence for the 21-year-old. One-for-three on the Q-scale; hand-down on his opening quad Salchow, full out fall on his third attempt. Shaky in silver.
(Not-so-happy face at the end-boards from coach Brian Orser.)
Still, gold and silver for skaters from afar who train at Toronto’s Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. Arguably, Orser — former world champion himself — was the biggest winner here on Friday night.
But a clanging plummet for Patrick Chan, dropping from third after the short competition to an error-riddled eighth in the free skate — fifth overall. Pulled out his second stab at a quad, ad-libbed a triple toe for a combination and banged into the boards, which ruined the equilibrium on his subsequent step sequence, no momentum going into the second triple which popped.
He skated last and the ice conditions were horrible.
First Axel was good. “Second (quad) toe was good too, despite hitting the boards. But I think that just changed the whole momentum of the program.’’
Said he felt stupid talking about the ice, making it sound like an excuse, but it really was a significant factor — skating last after to final flights of men, two six minute warm-ups, a puddle right in front of the judges.
“There were a lot of ruts. I couldn’t be confident when I stepped forward and set my edge. It would skip and jump over bumps or go right or left. It’s very personal to me. I like to use the flex of the ice. It rebounds me and gives me speed into my jumps, the way I breathe into my edges.
“But it is what it is. You’re given situations and I make the best out of them. That was obviously the best I could do today.”
Free score: 171.91. Overall: 266.75.
And it was all there for the taking. Well, probably not gold. Fernandez laid down arguably the best skate of his life here with a sassy routine choreographed to Guys and Dolls. The 24-year-old sailed over the 300-mark with a season-best 216.41 in the free, 314.93 overall. A near-capacity crowd at TD Garden was standing-0 thrilled for the charming Spaniard.
“Emotions, everything,” he bubbled afterward. “To repeat second title is something not easy.’’
As if a trio of quads wasn’t enough, Fernandez also added a second triple Axel late in the program.
“After three quads and one triple Axel, the next step was adding a second triple admitted, described his approach for the jump in the corner of the rink: “Oh my God, here I go.” And then, only semi-joking, he demonstrates a sign of the cross. “It’s hard.’’
Three world champions came in to the evening bidding for top of the podium honors: Fernandez, second after the short; Hanyu, sitting first; and Chan, back at worlds for the first time since 2013 and a full 18-month sabbatical from the international skating circuit.
Hanyu was off his game but drew enough high levels and sufficient approval from the judges — his 184.61 free skate score seemed high — to go home with silver.
Chan, final competitor, armed with an elegantly choreographed long Chopin program. But he appeared tentative and tight from start to finish.
Bronze was claimed by Chinese teenage jumping savant Boyang Jin, 2-for-4 on unassailable quads; his first was over-rotated, his second two-footed.
Decent outing for the triad of American men too — Adam Rippon fourth, Max Aaron 7th, Grant Hochstein 9th.
For 25-year-old Chan — three-time world champion, eight-time Canadian champion — an evening to ponder on.
Did it change how he was feeling about the season, about the decision to come back with an eye on the 2018 Olympics?
“Maybe immediately, yes, at the moment. But I think tomorrow I’ll look back at the entire year and there’s really nothing to be upset about. As much as we all want to win and be on the podium, and yeah it stinks to be in fifth, after third in the short, it’s good to be here. And feeling that pressure.’’
Stepping on the ice for his warm-up, looking up at the crowd.
“It’s just so great to be alive, to feel the energy. Just couldn’t use it to my advantage today, unfortunately.”
Worse off than Chan, far worse, was unfortunate Nam Nguyen. The 17-year-old from Toronto, sixth at worlds in 2015, failed to make the cut this time ‘round after the short — only top 24 finishers advanced — and was inconsolable. A national champion last year, albeit in Chan’s absence, Nguyen has underdone a growth spurt of some 10 inches since his tweenie phenom phase and is at awkward odds with his elongated body. His gambit here was disastrous.
“I had to do my job well,” he bemoaned the other night. “I didn’t.”
It’s been a precipitous plummet from fourth to 27th.
Most distressing to the teen is that was giving this shot at the worlds because Liam Firus of North Vancouver, reigning Canadian silver medalist, stood down for Boston, allowing Nguyen to take his spot — in the hope that a Chan-Nguyen tandem would have better odds of securing the placement math allowing Canada to qualify three men for 2017 worlds, which in turn will determine how many men can go to the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The amiable Firus has been widely lauded for his unselfishness, though sources have told the Star that Skate Canada applied some arm-twisting and Firus was not very happy about his sacrifice.
Skate Canada has played skate politics before.
It rarely works out as intended