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Glitzy Gala cannot hide figure skating warts

Updated: 2013-03-18 11:12

LONDON, Ontario - The figure skating world championships closed on Sunday as they almost always do with a glitzy gala, arguments and controversy.

With a scoring system that is harder to understand than the theory of relativity and offers about as much transparency as a Papal conclave, figure skating still struggles to connect with the average fan, particularly in North America where their numbers are on the decline.

That confusing system allowed Canada's Patrick Chan to claim a third consecutive world championship title on Friday despite hitting the ice more times than a toddler learning to skate.

Glitzy Gala cannot hide figure skating warts

Patrick Chan of Canada falls as he performs his men's free program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in London, March 15, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

The routine was so dreadful that Chan spent the next two days apologizing profusely to fans for his performance but he certainly did not apologize for the win.

"I deserved it," declared Chan. "It's totally understandable that people have their doubts.

"You look at hockey, it's really simple score one more goal than the other team. Figure skating is a little more subjective.

"But I would keep telling people I deserved it and would more than love to explain why."

There were plenty looking for an explanation. Even Chan's fellow skaters quickly challenged his victory through social media channels.

"No disrespect to Patrick but a skater shouldn't be able to fall twice & get such high PCS," tweeted former US and world champion Todd Eldredge.

Canada's Minister of State for Sport Bal Gosal saw things very differently tweeting: "Is it me, or is @SkateCanada's @pchiddy (Chan) getting better every time he skates?"

Therein lies figure skating's great conundrum; one skate, two polar opposite views.

The outcome of judged sports will always be open to debate but in figure skating there is increasingly little faith that the anonymous men and women perched rinkside dispensing scores are getting it right.

Glitzy Gala cannot hide figure skating warts

Patrick Chan of Canada performs at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships gala presentation in London, Ontario, March 17, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

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