Mistakes keep Patrick Chan humble.
So it was with humility that Canada's best men's figure skater entered the long program at the Canadian championships Saturday night. After off a short program the day before that contained a few mental lapses, Chan wanted to send himself a message with his long program.
The plan worked. Chan's score of 188.3 led to a combined score of 277.42 for the weekend, giving him his seventh-consecutive Canadian men's title, and setting the stage for his quest for gold at the Sochi Olympics next month.
It was a performance that Chan acknowledged contained a few glitches, but over all he was happy. He missed one of his bigger jump combinations, turning a quad-toe into a double-toe, which he regretted later.
"A little bit shaky here and there. A little bit," Chan said. "But other than that, it was good."
Canadian skater Montgomery "Bud" Wilson holds the record for most Canadian men's titles, winning nine between 1929 and 1939. Wilson also won seven consecutive national championships. Brian Orser holds the record for the most titles in a row, with eight between 1981 and 1988.
Asked if he'd stick around after the Olympics to break those records, Chan said he wasn't sure. The 23-year-old who is from Toronto and trains in Detroit has left his post-Sochi plans an open question. For the time being he wants to focus on the Games, and his bid to become the first men's individual skater from Canada to win Olympic gold.
"Mistakes like [on Friday] keep me humble," Chan said of his short program stumbles. "And today was a hard fought program, and that makes me feel like, yes, I deserve the seventh title and I can really enjoy it."
Canada has spots for three men at the Olympics. Though the team for Sochi won't be formally announced until Sunday at noon, it appears Chan will be joined by Kevin Reynolds and Liam Firus.
Reynolds, 23, who has missed several competitions this season due to problems finding skates that fit his narrow feet properly, rebounded from a tough short program Friday night to score 164.16 in the free skate. That gave him him a combined score of 242.45, and second place at nationals. Reynolds, known as a skilled jumper, fell on his first quad Friday, and chalked up the problem to his lack of competing this year.
He sat in third place after the short program, perilously at risk of missing a shot at Sochi. However, having most likely secured a place on the team now, he can focus on getting his programs back on track in the last three weeks of training before the Olympics. Asked if he was relief was a good word to describe his mindset now, Reynolds agreed. "A very good word, I'd use that," said the skater from Coquitlam, B.C..
Firus, 21, of North Vancouver, B.C., scored 159.2 in the long program, for a combined score of 238.13, and third place. "I trained my butt off and it paid off," Firus said. "I was coming in [to the season] saying you know what, you're going to go to the Olympic team, you're going to work as hard as you can. It's going to be tough, nothing's going to be easy. But this was my goal and I told myself I was going to be here."