No quad, no problem: Chan takes control in shortTriples good enough for three-time world champ; Japanese pair far back
Patrick Chan had been struggling with his practice sessions leading up to the short program at Skate Canada.
And although he wasn't perfect when the actual competition began, it was good enough for the three-time world champion to lead the field going into Saturday's free skate.
"I try not to put too much importance on practice," Chan said. "I use it to get the bugs out."
Chan got most, but not all, of the bugs out, as he trimmed a planned opening quad-triple combination into a triple-triple and stumbled out of the landing. He landed his triple Axel, which had also been problematic in practice. Overall, the program, which is a holdover from last season using music by Rachmaninoff, scored 88.10 points.
"I have different goals in mind; I didn't have techincal goals," Chan said. "I didn't say, 'I want to land my quad, then my Axel so I can come first.'
"I wanted to go out and be excited to be there as opposed to dreading competing, which had become a bad habit of mine over the last two seasons -- that I was kind of dreading competing and never really enjoying competing, which is really weird as an elite athlete.
"I went into this event thinking, 'Hey, I'm lucky to be here, I'm lucky to be at the level I am, I've won three world championships, I've got nothing to prove, I'm out here to have a great time.'"
Japan's Nobunari Oda, who fell on his opening quad, is in second (80.82 points), while Yuzuru Hanyu, who held onto the landing of his quad toe but popped his triple Lutz, is in third (80.40).
In finishing fourth (74.58), Jeremy Abbott led a trio of Americans in the field. The three-time U.S. champion landed his quad toe loop but turned his triple-triple into a double-double and put his hand down on the landing of his triple Axel.
Joshua Farris, competing in his first senior-level Grand Prix, and Ross Miner both struggled, finishing eighth and 10th, respectively.
"Landing the quad was such a big hurdle for me," Abbott said. "Putting out the quad in the short program shows that I can compete with every man in the world."
Abbott has only been skating this program for a couple of months. He originally planned to compete to music titled "Let Yourself Go," but he let it go in favor of using "Lilies of the Valley," and he was thrilled to have 1980 Olympic champion Robin Cousins choreograph the piece for him. But because of scheduling issues, the choreography couldn't be completed until September.
Abbott, who started skating lessons when he was 5 after seeing Cousins perform in a show in Colorado, said the experience of working with his childhood idol has been a rewarding experience. Abbott had tried to coordinate working with Cousins a year ago, but the timing didn't work out, so to have him involved in an Olympic season is extra special.
"It was fantastic," Abbott said of working with the British champion. "He's really funny, and he was really easy to work with."
Abbott's free skate, which he choreographed along with his coach, Yuka Sato, is to "Exogenesis Symphony Number 3," a routine he's used in the past but has updated.
"This is pretty much my last competitive season, and I wanted to bring everything full circle," Abbott said.
Meanwhile, Farris was most disappointed that his quad toe-triple toe turned into a triple-single. The world junior champion said he had not felt any nerves until right before the warm-up.
"All of sudden, I was a deer in headlights," Farris said.
Miner, meanwhile, fell on both his quad salchow and his triple Axel.
"I'm proud of the way I skated, but I just didn't do the hard stuff," Miner said. "But that's figure skating. You have good days and bad days."
The 2013 U.S. silver medalist is planning an emotional free skate for Saturday.
The program, choreographed to "Glory" by Michael W. Smith, is tribute to the city of Boston in the wake of the marathon bombings. Miner lives and trains in Boston.