Canada denied again as Japanese skater wins men's gold

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 15, 2014 - 12:12 AM

Highly decorated Patrick Chan joined a long list of countrymen — including one who coached the Sochi champ — to be denied gold.

– Brian Orser rattled off the names, one by one. Elvis Stojko. Kurt Browning. Jeffrey Buttle. Donald Jackson.

Along with Orser himself, they all belong to a brotherhood that would like to close the door to new members: great Canadian figure skaters who never reached the top of the Olympic podium. Friday night, their ranks grew by one. Patrick Chan, thought to be the man who could finally break the streak, was undone by three flawed jumps in the men’s free skate at Iceberg Skating Palace and finished second to Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.

As Hanyu’s coach, Orser should have been jubilant. The 19-year-old from Sendai became the first Japanese man to win the Olympic gold medal, a feat Orser predicted will be a huge boost to the sport in Japan. Hanyu also fell on one jump and touched both hands to the ice on the landing of another, but his expressive “Romeo and Juliet” program scored 178.64 points, giving him a total of 280.09 and Japan’s first gold medal of the Sochi Games.

Chan took silver with a total score of 275.62, and Denis Ten earned the bronze to become Kazakhstan’s first Olympic medalist in figure skating. Chan put on a brave face afterward, but Orser — himself a two-time silver medalist — both understood and shared his heartache.

“It’s bittersweet for me,” said Orser, who lost on home ice to American Brian Boitano in the famous “Battle of the Brians” at the 1988 Calgary Games. “I got more emotional giving Patrick a hug than I did with my own skater.

“I think of all our great male skaters, and not one of them has won. The list goes on and on. I hate when they say it’s a curse; it’s not a curse. But it’s just not happening. And I feel bad.”

There had been speculation all week about whether Chan would become another victim of the “Canadian curse,” entering the Winter Games as a contender and leaving unfulfilled. His résumé is loaded, with three world championships, two Grand Prix Finals crowns and seven Canadian titles.

On a night when few skaters stayed upright through an entire program, Chan’s three mistakes prevented him from becoming the first Canadian to win Olympic men’s skating gold. Hanyu set a record with a score of 101.45 in the short program and led Chan by 3.93 points.

Japan is mad for its figure skaters, and Hanyu said he felt such massive pressure to win that he did not sleep Thursday night. He fell on his opening jump, a quadruple salchow, and botched a triple flip. But his beautiful spins and charismatic style gave him first place in the free skate as well when Chan could not put together a clean skate.

Hanyu became the second-youngest Olympic men’s skating champion in history, behind American Dick Button, who was 18 when he won the title in 1948. His home rink in Sendai was destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, and he said he was “struggling to live” in the aftermath of the disaster. Hanyu nearly quit skating then, but Orser said he came to Sochi determined to leave with a gold medal.

“I’m so surprised, I can’t find the words,” said Hanyu, who trains with Orser in Toronto and entered the Olympics with the No. 1 world ranking. “It was such a difficult program for me, and I felt rough physically.

“I’m just shocked. I’m upset with the performance I had, but I left everything out there. I’m so proud of this feat as a Japanese.”

Chan nailed a combination quad toe loop and triple toe loop to open his “Four Seasons” program. But he put his hands down on the landings of two other jumps and stumbled out of the landing of a double axel.

“There was a lot of pressure to win the gold for Canada, but I really wanted to do it for myself,” said Chan, who finished a disappointing fifth on home ice at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. “Feeling the [gold] medal slip away was definitely a lingering thought. I’m disappointed, but life goes on.”

Orser, the Olympic silver medalist in 1984 and 1988, can vouch for that. He coached Korea’s Kim Yu-na to the women’s gold in Vancouver and also coaches Javier Fernandez of Spain, who placed fourth Friday.

Orser thought momentum would build through the evening, but there were few clean programs. Though Jason Brown of the United States stayed on his feet throughout his crowd-pleasing Riverdance-inspired skate, his style could not make up for his lack of high-scoring elements, and he finished ninth. Fellow American Jeremy Abbott, injured in a hard fall during his short program, had to scale back some jumps in his free skate and placed 12th.

About an hour after his skate, Chan dismissed talk of a Canadian curse, though he did say he was relieved to be freed from the pressure of Olympic expectations. Orser — who knows exactly how he feels — anticipated it will take him some time to adapt to membership in a club he hoped to avoid.

  • related content

  • Photo gallery: Men's free skate: Yuzuru Hanyu wins gold

    Friday February 14, 2014

    Yuzuru Hanyu wins the gold in the men's free skate, Friday night at Iceberg Skating Palace. Hanyu's score was...

  • Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan performed during the men's free skate on Friday night at Iceberg Skating Palace. Hanyu won the gold medal with a score of 280.09.

  • Patrick Chan of Canada had a few flubs in his long program, enough to keep the silver medalist off the top of the podium Friday night.

  • Yuzuru Hanyu (above) was more giddy about his Olympic gold than his coach, Brian Orser.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 93 FINAL
Denver 75
Phoenix 114 FINAL
LA Lakers 108
LA Clippers 107 FINAL
Golden State 125
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 4 FINAL(OT)
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM


question of the day

Poll: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters