Canada's three-time world champion was golden once again, winning Skate Canada International in his first major competition since the Sochi Olympics. "Pretty, pretty high stress and challenging competition for me," said Chan, who wiped his eyes in disbelief after his struck his final pose.
The 24-year-old from Toronto, who was second heading into the night, battled nerves in the moments before his skate. But he talked it over with coach Kathy Johnston, and went out and laid down a beautiful long program to music Frederic Chopin, that included a huge quad toe loop and triple Axel, for a total 271.14 points.
"I stepped on the ice and skated with no thought of who's around, who's watching, just really skating," Chan said. "Because it feels good to skate for myself, and physically, it's a great feeling when you go out and do what you've been doing day after day." The event was billed as the rematch between Chan and Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, who beat Chan for gold at the Sochi Olympics, the Canadian's last major competition before his comeback.
Three-time world champion Mao Asada made a strong return to the Grand Prix series by finishing first in the women's short program at the Cup of China on Friday.
The Japanese skater executed her trademark triple axel to open her routine, and topped the short program with 71.73 points, comfortably ahead of Rika Hongo of Japan, who was second with 65.79. Courtney Hicks of the United States was third with 62.38.
"It went just as I pictured it," Asada said. "I was nervous before I started. I wasn't able to skate that well in practice and just tried to use the nervous energy to my advantage. I hope I can carry this momentum over into the free program."
Asada, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, took a year off from competitive skating but announced in May she would make a comeback. Anna Pogorilaya of Russia, the 2015 European bronze medalist, was fourth, followed by Zijun Li of China. World bronze medalist Yelena Radionova under-rotated a triple toe loop and lay sixth.
Russian figure skater Elena Radionova, became the bronze medalist at the stage of the Grand Prix series in China, and skated for himself and for his trainer Inna Goncharenko, who was hospitalized before the tournament and stayed in Moscow. That opinion with Tass shared Goncharenko.
"For Lena stage in China was the first start of the season, while it turned out that I could not it go - is our her collaboration was the first time - said the coach. - It's a double burden, so that we can say that Lena skated for two - for himself and for me. I hope that the presence of Artur Dmitriev (coach Russian sports pairs - approx. TASS), which came out with her to the place where the skaters waiting ratings - approx. TASS ), helped her.
"Realizing that I could not be by her side, asked Arthur - we're friends, and I trust his experience, - added the coach. - Anyway, Lena never complained to me in telephone conversations about the difficulties. I know cares my health. And I want to give her - her medal at the Grand Prix added me strength. So on the Moscow stage it will be definitely close! I will crawl on a wheelchair at her side! "
Goncharenko said that this season Radionova have to get used to a new body: "In the coming season Lena enters new - it is no longer a child, and a beautiful girl with a beautiful body and adults skating. To this we must get used to. And this will be the main task for which started to her stage in China's season. "
NBC continues its coverage of the 2015 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series with Grand Prix France. Coverage of the men's and ladies' free skates begins this Sunday, Nov. 15, at Noon ET. Americans competing in Bordeaux include 2014 Olympic team bronze medalist Gracie Gold and 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron, both making their second appearance in the 2015 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. Aaron won his first Grand Prix Series title at 2015 Progressive Skate America last month, while Gold finished second at the event.
Highlighting the international field are reigning World, European and Grand Prix champion Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia, who placed second at 2015 Skate Canada; 2014 Olympic team gold medalist Yulia Lipnitskaya of Russia, who finished second in last year's Grand Prix France; and 2014 Olympic silver medalist and three-time World champion Patrick Chan of Canada, who recently won gold in front of his home country's fans at 2015 Skate Canada.
Grand Prix France is the fourth event of the 2015 International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. The Grand Prix Series, now in its 21st season, consists of six international events in a cumulative point-scoring format. Approximately 300 athletes from 30 countries are expected to participate in the series. Each athlete is eligible to score points in up to two of the six scheduled events. The top six point-earners in each discipline qualify for the 2015 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, set for Dec. 10-13, in Barcelona, Spain.
Patrick Chan (Canada) Chan is firmly in the "Needs Improvement" category for his short program after scoring 80.81 at Skate Canada. Chan himself thought he wouldn't make the top three in that segment. Fortunately, a sensational free program put him at the top of the podium.
Gracie Gold (USA) A loss of concentration and doubling a planned triple flip during her short program at Skate America meant Gold had to settle for silver in Milwaukee. In France, if she skates to potential, she has the maturity, the material and the ability to take the title.
Gracie Gold beat her personal-best short program by 2.06 points and leads Trophée Bompard going into the free skate Saturday in Bordeaux, France.
Gold tallied 73.32 points with a program that included a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, earning a comfortable lead of 7.69 over Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya. Gold will clinch a berth in the six-skater Grand Prix Final in December with a victory in Bordeaux.
World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, also of Russia, fell on a triple Axel attempt and scored 56.21 for fifth place, putting her hand on her forehead and shaking her head after the total came up.
Icenetwork.com will stream for subscribers live coverage of men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance free skates Saturday. NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage Sunday from 12-2 p.m. ET.