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Chan sets eyes on gold at 2010 World Championships

Canadia wants to improve on last year's silver medal

Quads have never been a problem for Patrick Chan. It's the triple Axels that give him some trouble.
Quads have never been a problem for Patrick Chan. It's the triple Axels that give him some trouble. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(03/18/2010) - A fifth-place finish at the Vancouver Olympics hasn't dampened Patrick Chan's confidence.

The 19-year-old skater says he's ready to step up to gold at next week's world championships and then, hopefully, dominate the four-year cycle until the 2014 Sochi Games.

"The goal is definitely a gold medal, for sure," Chan told reporters on a teleconference yesterday. "After winning silver last year, there's no question I should be striving for a gold medal."

Confidence and renewed faith in his training, Chan said, will make the difference next week and beyond.

"I'm really ready to dominate, to show what I've got. My confidence has come up so much after the Olympics; nothing can give you that kind of confidence other than the Olympics. It's a great set up for the next four years, if I'm going to do the next four years. For now I'm just going to take it year by year, and I'm really excited to go to worlds and show what I've got."

The three-time Canadian champion, who leaves his training base in Colorado Springs on Wednesday for worlds in Torino, thinks lessons learned in Vancouver -- especially from Olympic champion Evan Lysacek -- will help him on his quest.

"At the Olympics I still had a bit of a doubt," he said. "For example, before the long I was wasting my time thinking, 'Can I make it through this program, because I'm going to be so tired.' I shouldn't even have been nervous about it, because at the end I was like, 'Heck, I could do another one.'"

Chan reasons that his challenge is to put himself on automatic pilot and grab the moment, much as Lysacek did.

"That's something we learn, I think, over the years, really going out and going through the motions, instead of thinking every step of the way," he said.

"Evan is a perfect example of that; he just went out and gave it his all. He just performed the heck out of it and [didn't] worry about the jumps technically. [You have to] just go out and do what you've been doing, and go through the motions."

Chan -- who splits his training time between primary coach and long-time choreographer Lori Nichol in his home city of Toronto, and Christy Krall in Colorado Springs -- returned to Toronto after Vancouver's opening ceremony. Since then, he's been practicing at Colorado Springs World Arena, polishing his technique.

"I went home to Toronto to see Lori a little bit and just kind of decompress with her and decide who is going to worlds with me as well, and she just got me into shape and got me going again," he said, adding that Nichol will make the trip to Torino.

"I can only pick one coach [to go to worlds] because of the financial [aspect] after the Olympics, that's pretty big."

Some question the bifurcated training situation, which began this fall after the skater parted ways with previous coach Don Laws. Chan says it works well for him.

"Definitely Lori can always come by in Colorado if I need her, and I don't always need Lori to be there for me," he explained.

"Christy is a great coach...she pushes the uncomfortable buttons and lets me get comfortable in those situations; she really knows what she is doing, and there's not only Christy but Eddie Shipstad, who helps me with the quad, and hopefully the other skaters who are around. It's a good crowd and good environment to be able to walk in every morning and really be motivated to skate."

One of those "uncomfortable buttons" -- besides an inconsistent triple Axel, which failed him in Vancouver -- is a quad toe loop. Although Lysacek proved you don't need a quad to win worlds and Olympics, Chan wants the jump in his arsenal.

"I'm still working on the quad right now; I've been working on it the last two weeks," he said. "Christy made sure I was back on the harness and back on Dartfish [computer training program].

"I want to go out with a real bang and really show people that I am capable of doing it, and kind of [show] the people who have doubted me. Also I'm not just sitting around and relying on my skating skills to help me; I want to be the best and keep striving. Who knows, there might be someone coming up [in Canada] the next couple of years who will have just as good skating skills as me."

A few questions later, the skater grew more cautious about the difficult element, currently worth 9.8 points.

"If I get it, I get it; if I don't, I don't," he said. "It's not the end of the world and I'm lucky to be able to say that, because I have the skating skills to fall back on. [The quad] is something to keep the practice spiced up and interesting."

With Lysacek opting out of worlds for a star turn on Dancing with the Stars and other commitments, Chan's biggest competition in Torino is likely to be 2006 Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko, as well as Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, who won bronze in Vancouver.

The brash Chan, who was quoted as referring to the 27-year-old Plushenko as "old" in a widely publicized press event prior to the Olympics, admitted he's a bit awed by the Russian, who lost gold to Lysacek by 1.31 points despite executing a quad toe-triple toe combination in both programs.

"I would be a little scared if I did beat Evgeni [in Vancouver]," he admitted. "I would be a little worried that it would definitely push all his buttons. But we'll see. Worlds is a different panel, different callers, and we'll see what they come up with after the Olympics."

Chan's plans after Torino are up in the air. He's mulling an offer to perform with the Canadian tour of Stars on Ice, but also wants some private time.

"I'm still discussing with my agent," he said. "There will be a final say, an official posting, I guess, in a couple of weeks. That's after worlds and for now what I'm focusing on is worlds.

"It's a matter of how I feel. I really want to take some time off and go travel. I haven't been to Singapore, where some of my family lives. I think what I've learned at the Olympics is really stay true to your family. It kind of stinks, the last couple of years I've been so busy with skating, I've kind of lost touch with the family. I really want to go out and enjoy myself for a couple of weeks, because I have a four-year gap to the next Olympics and I can really enjoy myself right now."