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Chan hangs on to claim 3rd figure skating world title

LONDON, Canada (AFP) –

Patrick Chan celebrates his gold title at the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, on March 15, 2013

Patrick Chan of Canada celebrates his gold medal in the Mens Free Skating Program during the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships at Budweiser Gardens, on March 15, 2013 in London, Ontario, Canada.

Canada’s Patrick Chan won his third consecutive men’s title at the World Figure Skating Championships, even though it was Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten who captured the free skate final.

But Chan’s already rocky season came within an ice shaving of ending in disaster after he crashed twice.

Delighting a crowd of home-nation supporters, Chan on Friday took the overall crown with 267.78 points to edge unheralded Ten, who was second on 266.48. Spain’s Javier Fernandez, the European men’s champion, was third with 249.06.

“It was a battle after I fell but I am going to take that and put it in my back pocket and learn from it for next season,” Chan said.

Chan dominated the short programme on Wednesday with Ten finishing second, but in the free skate performance, it was Ten who was triumphant with 174.92 points to 169.41 for Chan and 169.05 for Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.

Denis Ten skates his men's free skate program, in London, Ontario, on March 15, 2013

Denis Ten of Kazakhstan skates his men’s free skate program at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, on March 15, 2013. Canada’s Patrick Chan won his third consecutive men’s title at the Championships, even though it was Ten who captured the free skate final.

“I can’t believe I won a medal. It’s like a dream I am still sleeping in,” said Ten, a descendant of Korean general Min Keung Ho.

It was the seven-point cushion that Chan enjoyed going into the free skate performance that enabled the Canadian to become the first to win three world men’s titles since Russian Alexei Yagudin from 1998-2000.

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, runners-up at worlds the past two years, took the pairs title by winning Friday’s free skate final, becoming the first Russian duo to claim the world pairs throne since 2005.

Chan opened his “La Boheme” routine with the same bravado he showed in setting a new points record two days earlier with his short programme.

He landed back-to-back, picture-perfect quadruple jumps but seconds later the programme began to unravel. Chan first crashed on a triple lutz and then on his triple Axel.

Javier Fernandez celebrates with his Bronze medal, in London, Ontario, on March 15, 2013

Bronze medalist Javier Fernandez of Spain celebrates following the men’s competition at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, on March 15, 2013. Patrick Chan took the overall crown with 267.78 points to edge Denis Ten, who was second on 266.48. Fernandez, the European men’s champion, was third with 249.06.

The quads, however, scored 30 points and that, combined with his unmatched mastery of performance and the short-programme cushion, gave him the triumph.

“I’m a bit disappointed,” Chan said. “This is why it’s not easy to be an athlete. I just tried to make the best of it.

“It was a good beginning with two beautiful quads.”

Ten, who competed hurt much of the season due to various injuries, also opened with a quadruple toe loop.

He delivered two triple Axels and stayed on his feet throughout a joyfully expressive performance set to “The Artist” and spectators rewarded the ecstatic Ten with a thunderous standing ovation.

“I am glad I could skate with power,” Ten said. “I never thought I would finish the season this way.”

Fernandez rose to the podium after finishing seventh in the short programme, masterfully executing two different quads and scoring high performance marks for his charming Charlie Chaplin programme.

“We just have to keep working for next season, which is the really big one,” Fernandez said. “For the Olympic season, my dream will be to get a medal.”

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, ninth in the short, also clawed his way back up the ladder to finish fourth on 244.99 while Canada’s number two skater, Kevin Reynolds, dropped from third to fifth overall, finishing on 239.98.

Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi, who was expected to contend for a medal, finished sixth with 239.03 points.

Volosozhar and Trankov finished with combined judges’ scores of 225.71 points while four-time and reigning world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany were second overall on 205.56.

At these last worlds before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, competitors look to stake early claims to next year’s Olympic podium and post results that will earn their countries the most entries possible for Sochi.

Canada and Japan will each have three men on the Olympic roster based on results Friday.

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