There’s something about the men’s field in this year’s World Figure Skating Championships that seems different from years recent. Any way you looked at it in the past two years, Patrick Chan was the one who went in as the favorite. His advantage? A consistent quad toe, which he deployed three times over two programs. That plus the fact that he has always been one of the strongest skaters, jumps aside, made him almost unstoppable.
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And so it was no surprise that he blew the field away in 2011. Last year, though, the field started to close in, but Chan still figured out a way to leave the event victorious. This year? Not so fast.
The feeling of invincibility, or at least inevitability, that surrounded Chan during the past couple of seasons began to diminish mid-last season and has continued to shrink this season. Look at it this way, there are three other guys who have scored higher in international competition than Chan has.
Who are they? European champion Javier Fernandez, Grand Prix Final champion Daisuke Takahashi, and short program world record holder Yuzuru Hanyu. That doesn’t mean that Chan isn’t a favorite; that just means that there are really four favorites.
While the podium might be spoken for already with three of those four favorites, the programs these days are so technically risky that mistakes could (and likely will) happen. There’s a distinct possibility that if the mistakes are big and plenty enough, dark horses could make their way to get a medal. After all, Hanyu himself was the surprise bronze medalist last year, and the year before, Artur Gachinski, who didn’t qualify for Worlds this season, was the very surprise bronze medalist.
Chief amongst those knocking at the door is Four Continents champ Kevin Reynolds, who took advantage of mistakes from both Takahashi and Hanyu to win that competition. Count in the other two on the podium at Europeans, silver medalist Florent Amodio and bronze medalist Michal Brezina, who are both having a late season resurgence.
Japanese bronze medalist Takahito Mura beat out some stiff competition to get the third Japanese spot at Worlds. Former World champion Brian Joubert is back for his 12th consecutive appearance at Worlds. And then there are the two Maxes, both Worlds rookies – Max Aaron, new U.S. champion, and Maxim Kovtun, fifth at Europeans.
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