Patrick Chan tries to shrug off his critics
LONDON, Ont. - Some time between Patrick Chan's first world gold medal in 2011 and his third that came Friday night, someone came up with the term "Chanflation."
Definition: when the six-time Canadian champion receives high marks that critics believe he doesn't deserve.
There were plenty of critics Friday night when the 22-year-old from Toronto fell twice in his free program en route to winning his third consecutive world figure skating title.
The Los Angeles Times skating story ran under the headline: "'Chanflation' helps Patrick Chan keep world skating title."
The Chicago Tribune wasn't any more favourable, writing: "'Home-ice' advantage boosts Chan to World Figure Skating title. Canadian edges Ten for men's championship with help of some ridiculously unjustifiable judging."
Chan has heard the term, and tried to laugh it off Saturday when he sat down with journalists in a half-hour conversation to rehash the week's performance and talk about his mindset heading into next year's Sochi Olympics.
"Chanflation...," he said, with a half-hearted laugh. "I think people forget that it's a two-part event. Hey, why don't I call the journalists and tell them to come on the ice and try and do what we do?
"Why would someone say something like that? That's the most ignorant thing you can say," he added. "It's easy to judge what we do as athletes, it's easy to judge it when you're sitting in front of a computer writing an article as opposed to really being there. It's a really humbling feeling to step out there and stand in front of thousands of people by yourself. You're really vulnerable."
Chan opened the week with a world-record score in the short program, and took a seven-point lead into the long program. He landed two huge quads to open his free program to "La Boheme," before an uncharacteristic fall on his triple Lutz followed up by a fall on his triple Axel.
Former U.S. national champion Johnny Weir tweeted "Seriously?" when he saw Chan's scores.
Chan's total score of 267.78 Friday night left the door open and Denis Ten of Kazakhstan came awfully close, finishing just a point-and-a-bit behind the Canadian for silver.
Chan, who apologized to the home-country crowd after his less-than-perfect skate, said his strong short program, plus his two huge quads in the free skate, and his high program component scores — what used to be known as artistic impression — saved him.
"If I combine both the short program and the long program, and combine the amount of mistakes I made, I don't think I made any more mistakes than Denis did or Javier (Fernandez, the bronze medallist) did," he said. "I think (critics) are looking at the long program by itself. I would for sure admit I didn't skate my best.
"But ... Chanflation," Chan added, with a long sigh. "If they have a problem with it they should talk to the judges, not blame me, I'm just doing my job. I deserved every point that I got, and I worked hard for it.
"Denis could have won it, he made one or two mistakes in his program, and it was one point."
Chan's victory in front of the Canadian crowd came a year after he was booed at the world championships in Nice, France, winning gold after falling in his long program.
Asked if he gets tired of having to justify his victories, the Canadian said he feels people don't understand figure skating.
"It doesn't annoy me because it's totally understandable that people have their doubts," Chan said. "You look at hockey, it's really simple: score goals more than the other team.
"I would keep telling people that I would deserve it, and I would more than love to explain why."
Chan said he set the bar high for himself with his stunning gold-medal performance three years early in Moscow that shattered three world scoring records. Regardless of whether this week's win was perfect or not, he'll head into the Sochi Olympics with a new sense of confidence on the heels of a frustrating season.
Chan went undefeated for nearly two years after that victory in Moscow, but that streak ended when he was second at Skate Canada International. He was third at the Grand Prix Final.
He decided he needed a change of scenery and moved from Colorado Springs, Colo., to Detroit just three weeks before the world championships — a move he said he'll likely make permanent in the run-up to Sochi.
Chan finished a disappointing fifth at the Vancouver Olympics, but believes the Games in Russia will a different story.
"Vancouver was like the Super Bowl and Sochi will be like a conference title," he said. "It's away. It will be a lot less pressure, especially defending my (world) title three times since then, I've gained a lot of experience. I've matured a ton since Vancouver as well."