There is nothing more exciting than seeing something innovative, fresh and daring especially when it come to figure skating and even more so before the seaon starts.

The innovation was delivered by Lori Nichol to Patrick Chan in the form of this season’s new short program which debuted a short time ago today at the Liberty competition.

Speaking to Lori just after the event she told me that: “after the heaviness and stress of last season, it was time to’ shake it off’ and move forwar refreshed and energized.” Her goal for this program was to capitalize on the ground she gained when she choreographed a new show program for Patrick this past Spring. She chose the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” song by Bobby McFerrin. At the time that she suggested the music to Patrick, it took some convincing because he would have to learn how to move in a completely different way. It is a program that makes him reach out to the audience and relies on his use of character. The result was a perfectly charming show program that illuminates his particular brand of joie de vivre.

Lori is so smart in the way she develops the skaters and their ability to perform what is required. She uses her choreographic wizardry as a way to teach lessons sometimes. Patrick told me in the Spring that as a result of missing his triple loop at Worlds, Lori put it in the show program to force him to perform it and get over whatever mental glitch might have been lurking. He discovered along the way how much fun he had skating in character once he learned how and was ripe for more.

This year’s short program is to Take Five – a jazzy upbeat piece and takes Patrick Chan out of the realm of teenager to young man in a way that is beautiful to watch.

If you can imagine a classical pianist: sombre, earnest and committed and as he sits on his piano stool playing exquisitely, you get lost in the music and are aware but only incidentally of his talent. Now imagine that same pianist getting introduced to jazz and suddenly the talent that was buried in the music is brought to life and you are face to face with the man who is playing and completely struck by his individuality. That’s what Patrick’s program felt like for me today.

In talking to Lori, I said that the feel that Patrick created on the ice was light and romantic and took on an almost giddy quality. Sort of like falling in love with all of its’ goofy charm. She chuckled and said that the inspiration for the piece was “Last Call and seeing the girl of his dreams.” How cool is that when what I experienced was what she as the choreographer had intended.

The elements were all there including a huge quad toe and a footwork sequence which is more than a step above. It’s true that he did fall on his triple Axel and that his pant strap came undone which was a bit of a distraction 3/4 of the way to the end of the music. The program needs miles, they all do at this time of year, but he is using a Rolls Royce vehicle as far as I am concerned.

Not everyone sees things the way I do: I spoke with a skating fan after the fact who said that she had never been completely convinced about Patrick’s skating and was sorry to have missed his short.. I told her what I thought and that I hadn’t felt this way, in terms of this being a special or memorable program since seeing Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s free dance last summer when it debuted in competition. Still on the bubble, I finally sai to her: “Look – good is good, even if you aren’t sure. Good is still good and for me this is way above good.”

She smiled and said: “You’re right; good is good.”

Bet you’re going to agree.

Tagged with: , ,