The morning after claiming yet another men's figure skating title —this time the ISU Four Continents crown — Patrick Chan was asked if there's anybody anywhere who can possibly challenge him.
The 21-year-old from Toronto overcame a bad bout of nerves and a stumble in his short program to produce a stunning free skate to win gold at the Four Continents in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday night, keeping alive an unbeaten streak that stretches back to 2010.
“There never is a day or competition where I feel I'm entitled to winning, or I can just — sorry for my French — half-ass the program and win,” Chan said. “I always feel like I'm competing on an equal playing field with everyone else and everyone is going to bring their ‘A' game at world championships.
“Nothing counts until worlds, I believe in that and I think everyone will be on their feet and doing really well at worlds, so it will be interesting to see if I can keep it together as well.”
Despite feeling as nervous this week as he'd been in recent memory, the defending world champion nailed his free skate program, scoring a season-high 185.99 points to take the title with a score of 273.94.
Chan easily beat Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist who earned 161.74 points in the free skate and 244.33 overall. American Ross Miner was third with a total score of 223.23.
The Canadian said fighting off the nerves will stand him in good stead when he defends his world title next month in Nice, France.
“It was a good test and it kept me on my toes, and kind of was a reminder that things aren't always easy,” Chan said.
The nerves, he said, came from his own lofty expectations. He expected to do well at the rink where he trains every day, plus he has his recent results to live up to — Chan went unbeaten in 2011, and set world scoring records.
The Canadian spent Friday afternoon wandering around downtown Colorado Springs in an effort to settle his nerves before his free skate.
“I learned a lot this week, just putting things behind me and really doing it for myself, I have nothing to prove, I have to remind myself of that,” Chan said. “If I look back several years ago, I could never imagine breaking three world records or winning the world championships, and all these things. . . what I did (Friday) doesn't mark who I am, it's just kind of an addition to who I am, and I learned so much from this competition for sure, and gained a lot of confidence and trust in myself.”
Chan will be the favourite to claim his second consecutive world title, March 25-April 1 in France, and knows he'll be battling nerves there as well.
“I still get nervous every single day, there's not one day when I feel less nervous than the competition before, it's either the same or more nervous,” Chan said. “I think it's good though, I think it's great to be nervous, I think it's the right thing to feel, it's what keeps you on your toes, it gives you that adrenalin rush.”
Chan's winning score in Thursday's short program drew the ire of critics, who claimed his mark was too high. He failed to land his quad jump cleanly, touching both hands to the ice.
“What can I say? The judges know what they're doing, and whoever is saying what they're saying, it doesn't really matter because they're not sitting on the panel,” said Chan. “I trust the judges to judge it well and they know what they're doing, at the end of the day I think that despite the mistake it's how you skate overall.
“That's what I'm trying to show with this new (scoring) system, and with the way I'm skating, it's showing the most balanced skater will obviously finish on top.”
Chan will spend most of the next month prior to the world championships training in Colorado. He'll travel to Vancouver for a fundraising event and hopes to sneak in some skiing at Whistler.
“It will be good to get away from here and just go and have fun, go enjoy the outdoors and enjoy being with friends and family,” Chan said. “Just get away and start fresh when I get back and start training for worlds.”