LONDON, Ontario — The title may have gone to Patrick Chan, but there was no question the night belonged to Denis Ten.
The little-known skater from Kazakhstan stole Chan's spotlight at the World Figure Skating Championships on Friday night with a beautifully breezy and technically impressive performance to "The Artist."
Uggie surely would have approved. The Canadian fans certainly did, giving Ten a standing ovation when he finished and greeting him with louder cheers than they did even for Chan when he was introduced as the silver medalist.
"I never expected this," Ten said, who knelt on the ice for several seconds when he finished, tapping the ice with one hand.
Though Ten won the free skate, he couldn't overcome the big lead Chan had from the short program. Chan finished with 267.78 points, 1.3 better than Ten.
"It is a two-program competition and I'm thankful for that beautiful short program," Chan said. "Maybe I'm saving the long for the Olympics."
Still, when Ten saw his marks, his mouth dropped open and he pumped his fists. He'd never been better than seventh at world championships or Olympics before. This is Kazakhstan's first medal ever at the world championships.
Javier Fernandez of third, giving Spain its first medal, too.
U.S. champion Max Aaron was seventh and Ross Miner was 14th, ensuring the Americans will have two spots in Sochi.
No one – Ten included – could have predicted this performance a few days ago. Heck, he'd been 12th just last month at Four Continents, a competition that doesn't include the Europeans or, this year, Chan.
But in one of those happy accidents of fate, everything came together at exactly the right time and place for the 19-year-old.
"Worlds was amazing," Ten said. "Every year this is the competition everybody is looking forward to. I was waiting for this moment so long."
Continuing a story he'd started with the short program, Ten was a revelation. He didn't so much as skate to "The Artist" as he did pick up where the Oscar-winning movie had left off.
He was a silent film star on ice, pantomiming and using every other inch of his body to talk to the audience – and judges – without ever uttering a word.
His skating was flawless, with centered spins and complex footwork. His quad was big and solid and the rest of his jumps were strong. But it was the landings that were most impressive, with his blades carving the ice like a diamond cutter.
Had he not doubled the first jump in his triple flip-double toe combination, he – not Chan – would have been standing atop the podium.
With the Sochi Olympics a year away and these world championships in his own country, Chan wanted this title badly.
Maybe too badly.
He got off to a spectacular start, doing a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and a solo quad toe that were so technically perfect, coaches all over went running for their DVR.
Then the downward spiral began. He splatted on a triple lutz, a jump that's simple in comparison to those quads, and fell on an underrotated triple axel. He flipped out of the landing on the last jump of a triple flip-single loop-triple salchow combination and watered down a triple lutz-double toe combo.
Chan knew this wasn't one of his more memorable performances, slapping his forehead several times when he finished. Did it again as he waited for his marks, giving the audience a sheepish smile.
"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry that I did not get to do a good program," said Chan, the first man to win three straight world titles since Alexei Yagudin (1998-2000).
Oozing charisma and swagger, Fernandez can sell his programs like few other skaters these days.
At 21, he's way too young to recall Charlie Chaplin. But Fernandez's portrayal of him was so spot on, no one could take their eyes off of him.
Early in the program, he did an old-fashioned royal curtsy, rolling his hand down from his nose to the ground. He started one footwork sequence by stuffing his hands in his pockets, fixing the audience with a flirty smile and shrugging his shoulders.
He even managed a little duck walk. That's tough to do in street shoes, let alone figure skates.
The flaws in his program, hard as it may be to believe, were with his jumps. Fernandez has always had great hops, and he did two quads – one salchow and one toe loop – that were very nice.
But he popped both jumps in what was supposed to be a quad salchow-triple toe combination into doubles, and singled the opening lutz in a planned triple lutz-double toe combination.
Earlier Friday, Tatiana Volosozhar and Makim Trankov won the pairs title, Russia's first since 2005.