Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Patrick Chan within Striking Distance of Gold in First Event

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Patrick Chan within Striking Distance of Gold in First Event

Article excerpt

Canada's Chan second after short program

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - It was far from the return Patrick Chan had envisioned, but still good enough to leave Canada's three-time world champion within striking distance of gold.

And more than a year-and-a-half after he walked off the competitive ice, Chan sent a reminder that -- even when he makes mistakes -- he's among the world's best.

The 24-year-old from Toronto is second after the men's short program at Skate Canada International, his first major competition since the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Skating to Michael Buble's version of "Mack the Knife," he opened with a huge quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination, but then fell on his triple Axel and doubled a planned triple Lutz.

"It's so great to be back and I love that the audience is as excited as I am," Chan said. "(But) frustrating. This program is 'Mackie's back in town.' So I feel like I'm back in town. And here I am. But hopefully not like that. Better next time."

Fortunately for Chan, on a night he was far from perfect, nobody else was either. In what was virtually a three-way tie for the lead, Daisuke Murakami of Japan scored 80.88 points for first, Chan scored 80.81, and American Adam Rippon is third with 80.36.

And while the event was billed as a rematch between Chan and Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu, the Japanese skater finished well down in sixth place, doubling both his quad jump and what was intended to be a triple toe loop.

Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., the reigning world pairs champions, have a healthy eight-point lead after the short program.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., won the ice dance short program, while Kaetlyn Osmond of Marystown, N.L., was fourth in a women's short program won by American Ashley Wagner.

Nam Nguyen of Toronto was fourth in the men's short program.

Chan, dressed in a casual slacks/sweater combination, broke into a wide smile when the Enmax Centre crowd roared at his introduction. He admitted to being relieved when it was over -- the first one finally out of the way.

"Every day I know that I get better and better," Chan said. "There's always progress every day, whether it's a practice day or a competition day, I always learn."

He lamented the difficulty of his program, but admitted it's what he needs if he wants to win a fourth world championship in March in Boston.

"Ask Kathy (Johnston, his coach). We've had full-blown arguments on practice, just being like 'What's the point of doing all this hard stuff when I can't even stay on time?' I feel rushed the entire time," he said. "That's walking that fine line of greatness, and I think in the end it will be worth it, this frustration and these challenges, and hiccups.

"If I can get through these it will be tremendous by the time I get to nationals and worlds hopefully. …

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