Patrick Chan kneeled, covered his face and took in the noise of the Alberta crowd and the wave of Canadian flags. He said he felt like the Chan of old.
The three-time World champion came all the way back after a one year-break, beating the man who kept him from Olympic gold and overtaking the short program leader to win Skate Canada on Saturday night.
“It’s been a battle,” Chan said in the kiss-and-cry area shortly before his score was announced — 271.14 total points, which would have won silver at last season’s World Championships.
Chan, who last skated at the top international level earning two silver medals at the Sochi Olympics, bettered Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu by 11.6 points for his fifth Skate Canada title and 12th overall in the Grand Prix series.
Short program leader Daisuke Murakami finished third, followed by U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon and Canadian champion Nam Nguyen.
NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.
“A big relief,” Chan told CBC. “It was a challenging day, but I’m really pleased with the results. I didn’t think it would turn out this way. I had no expectations, results-wise.”
Chan said he covered his face after a clean, 4-minute, 30-second free skate because he couldn’t believe what had happened given how he felt just before taking the ice.
“I really was lost and didn’t know where to start and was really scared to go out and skate,” he said in a press conference. “Talked it through [with coach Kathy Johnson], stepped on the ice and really skated with no thought of who’s around and who’s watching, just really skating because it feels good.
“As vulnerable as it was and uncomfortable and kind of embarrassing, you’ve got to have those moments to take that next step sometimes,” he told CBC.
Chan was in second place behind Japan’s Daisuke Murakami after Friday’s short program, when he fell on a triple Axel and doubled a planned triple Lutz.
“Maybe in the short program I was thinking too much about, I want to show people that I’m back,” Chan said.
He cleaned up in the free skate, opening with a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and then nailing the triple Axel.
Hanyu, who was sixth in the short program due to receiving zero points on two of his three jumping passes, improved to pass everybody but Chan on Saturday. Hanyu landed three quadruple jumps and then fell on a triple Lutz.
“I felt more about skating my best and just showing what I’ve been doing at the practice rather than try and skate clean,” Hanyu said through a translator in a press conference.
The Grand Prix series continues with the Cup of China next week. Chan will next compete in Trophee Bompard in France the following week. Hanyu’s next competition is NHK Trophy in Japan in four weeks.
MORE FIGURE SKATING: Full season broadcast schedule