Patrick Chan Drops Second Event
Chan pulls out to focus on later in the season; Keegan Messing takes his place in Japan.
After his disastrous free skate at Skate Canada last week, it seems Patrick Chan has decided to make a change of plans. Earlier today the Canadian federation announced his withdrawal from next week’s NHK Trophy. There’s no direct statement from him on the matter at the moment. They say he wants to focus on Canadian Nationals in January.
That wasn’t how the news actually broke. That happened a few hours before that federation’s press release, when the Grand Prix roster changed, and suddenly teammate Keegan Messing was on it in his place. That means the he probably talked to officials in both Canada and Japan. The latter certainly had to have known to have already chosen his replacement.
Canadian Nationals, on the other hand, is an odd thing for Chan to focus on. If they’d said the Olympics, that would’ve made perfect sense. The Grand Prix results were never that important for him anyway. Technically the results at Canadian Nationals are, but even after last week, it’s pretty much unthinkable for Chan to not make the Olympic team. And with the way the other Canadian men are all skating, he might not even need a good performance to win the title. It even raises the question as to whether he was put under pressure to withdraw by the Canadian federation. But there’s only so much they can do to he who’s still their only top-level guy, and has openly talked about how his results aren’t his priority anymore.
But it may, perhaps, simply be a matter of pride. Since, again he cares less about the results now, if he wants anything he’s afraid of not getting at Nationals, it’s probably a good performance at what will be his final time there. Or it may even be he wants to avoid any bad performances, and Nationals is simply the next competition he’s got time to regroup before.
With him out, Yuzuru Hanyu will tower above the rest of the field at his home event. But he probably would’ve done that anyway. The other two spots on the podium are now pretty open, though Jason Brown’s looking good for one of them. If he does take one of them, most of the rest of the field could still conceivably win the other one. It’s not even entirely impossible, though it is unlikely, that Messing could turn this last-minute invite into a medal. He skated a good enough short program last week, though his free program wasn’t very good.