Figure skating's Patrick Chan eyes Olympic gold after winning Trophee Bompard
Patrick Chan of Canada poses with the trophy and the gold medal after winning the men's program at the ISU Figure Skating Eric Bompard Trophy, at Bercy arena in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. (AP / Michel Euler)
Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press
Published Saturday, November 16, 2013 4:28PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 16, 2013 5:11PM EST
PARIS -- Patrick Chan knows the pressure on him will be intense at the Sochi Olympics after breaking three of his own world records on the way to his fourth victory at the Trophee Bompard.
The three-time world champion crushed the competition to win the event by more than 30 points on Saturday -- eclipsing his own best scores in the short program and free skate and beating his best combined mark.
The 22-year-old from Toronto knows his composure will be tested much more at the Winter Games.
"A score like that -- if I put that up at the Olympics I think it will be very, very hard to beat," he said. "This is a grand prix event I've been to many times. The Olympics is only the second time (for me) and I'm competing against the best skaters in the world so it's a very different circumstance, a very different atmosphere."
Meanwhile, American skater Ashley Wagner successfully defended her title despite finishing second in the free skate.
"Tonight was a pretty decent night for me," Wagner said. "I think there's still room for improvement."
Chan scored 196.75 in the free for an overall mark of 295.27 -- smashing his previous best combined score (280.98) and his free record (187.96) from the 2011 worlds.
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu tallied 263.59 overall to finish second, and American Jason Brown scored 243.09 for his first senior medal. Both are 18.
Chan expects a much fiercer challenge in Sochi, where he will need all of his mental strength.
"It's going to be a goal of mine to be able to click and think about moments like today and yesterday to do the exact same thing at the Olympics," he said.
Chan chose his favourite piece of music to skate to -- Concerto Grosso's "Four Seasons" -- and performed with such grace and precision that the Paris crowd rose as one to give him a deafening ovation as he blew kisses back to them.
"It's a piece of music that really meshed well with me," he said. "I could time my knee bends, my breathing to the music."
Chan will be hard to stop at the Dec. 5-8 Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka, Japan. He nailed his opening quad toeloop-triple toeloop, his quad toeloop and his triple axel jumps with remarkable ease.
"I felt truly free and I was really able to have ownership of every moment I could skate," Chan said. "That's why we compete. Not for the medals or the money. You kind of feel unbeatable and indestructible. I was happy, free and light."
Chan usually scores so highly in the short that he has room for error in the long.
"Today was a challenge because I've done very well in the short program in the past and haven't had a good track record with the long," he said.
Hanyu recovered brilliantly after a nervous start where he stumbled on his opening jump -- a quad salchow -- and then fell attempting a quad toeloop. He shook his head as he left the ice as the crowd warmly cheered him.
Wagner, who was second at Skate America behind Japan's Mao Asada last month, scored 194.37 and beat Adelina Sotnikova -- who had the best score in the long -- by five points. The 15-year-old Anna Pogorilaya was 10 points back in third spot. Both Russians and Wagner are qualified for the GP Final.
Earlier, Olympic runners-up Pang Qing and Tong Jian won the Trophee Bompard pairs for the first time in their final season.
World bronze medallists Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmerton, Ont., finished second, securing their place for the Fukuoka event, which will feature the top six skaters in each category.
"We're incredibly proud of ourselves to make the final with the pressure we put on ourselves," Radford said.
Americans Caydee Denney and John Coughlin took the bronze medal.
Also, Olympic champions Tessa Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ont., followed up their success at Skate Canada by winning the ice dance.
The Canadians were nine points better than European runners-up Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia, who beat Cup of China winners Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France by less than a point.
"We felt like it was a strong skate," said Moir. "There were some great moments and it was a better skate than at Skate Canada especially the ending. Still we left some points out there. Technically we can't afford to do those little mistakes."
Nicole Orford of Burnaby, B.C., and Thomas Williams of Okotoks, Alta., were eighth.