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Springs snips: Chan, Takahashi talk each other up

Winning will take transition, quads, Takahashi says

The last time Canada's Patrick Chan failed to win gold at a competition was two seasons ago, at the 2010 Rostelecom Cup.
The last time Canada's Patrick Chan failed to win gold at a competition was two seasons ago, at the 2010 Rostelecom Cup. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(02/09/2012) - Someday, somewhere, Patrick Chan will lose a competition.

Judging from his remarks after his early practice Wednesday, it won't be here.

"I'm very confident -- a bit more confident than usual -- because this is where I train and I'm used to the altitude, I'm used to the ice, I'm used to the environment," Chan said.

"I also have a bit of an advantage because I didn't have to travel. I just stayed home and waited for people to come, whereas Daisuke [Takahashi], for example, he had to travel a long way and get used to the altitude."

Canada's world champion never seems to lack confidence, and rightfully so. Last month, he was awarded an extraordinary 302 points in winning his fifth straight Canadian title. He rides a seven-event winning streak into Four Continents, an event he won in 2009. The last time Takahashi defeated Chan was at the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships, where the Japanese won his world title.

Since then -- except for a blip at the 2010 Rostelecom Cup, where an invalid jump combination in the free skate cost the Canadian the title -- it's been all Chan. The last time Chan and Takahashi met, at the Grand Prix Final in Quebec City in December, the Canadian triumphed by 11 points, although he won the free skate by only a point.

"Of course it's easy to think I could continue to be unbeatable, but at some point you have to lose some, you have to win some in order to be the best in the world," Chan, 21, said.

"Luckily, even with the success, I'm still able to find things to fix, things to criticize myself about. I have great coaches [including Christy Krall and Eddie Shipstad] around me who are constantly nitpicking and also expanding my horizons. I don't stop; I'm just continuing to build, so that people are always chasing me. Hopefully, I'll never stand still."

Understandably, Takahashi prefers not to focus on scores when discussing Chan.

"I don't want to think about the result," he said with some aide from an interpreter. "Practice and competitions and the high altitude, I just want to feel good."

Asked how he could defeat Chan, the personable 25-year-old had a characteristic laugh.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't know. I should do [a] perfect program, and I think I need two quads [in the free]. No minor mistakes. I also need to have the audience on my side."

At the Japanese Championships in late December, Takahashi landed a quad toe-triple toe in the short program, but he hasn't decided whether he'll do the same here.

"In the long, I'm going to do just one quad, the toe loop," he said. "I think I will do it in the short here, too, but I'm not sure."

Chan, who routinely includes a quad toe combination in his short, plus two quad toes in his free, doesn't agree with his rival.

"I don't think he necessarily needs two quads," he said. "Two quads is just something I'm so used to doing now. I've been doing it for the past season and a half. It's something I love to do, and it's a natural layout of the program for me.

"But Daisuke doesn't necessarily need two quads; he has such great skating skills [as good as] if not sometimes better than me. He needs probably a quad. He does beautiful triple Axels, and they get plus GOEs all the time, so he's not that far off."

Takahashi has targeted another area for improvement: his transitions' score, one of the five areas that comprise program components. In Quebec City, one judge assigned him a 5.5 for transitions and linking steps, although eight other judges ranged from 7.5 to 9.

"It's my weak point, the transitions," he said. "I always have lower scores. I need to build them up.

"The 5.5, I think, was too much. But some people give me low scores. Maybe after Four Continents, I am going to change [transitions in his free skate]. I am going to Detroit to work with [choreographer] Pasquale Camerlengo."

Quick hits: Alissa Czisny isn't competing at Four Continents, but she is in Colorado Springs this week. Her coaches, Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato, are here with students Adam Rippon and Haruka Imai, and the U.S. silver medalist joined the group to keep up her training ... This event is a great bargain for locals: single-session tickets are available for as little as $9.