During warm-up at the Skate Canada International grand prix, Patrick Chan dazzled the audience with a perfectly executed quad toeloop into a triple toeloop. But when it came to executing the jump during the short program Friday night, that same perfection escaped him.
However, the minor mistake didn't hurt Chan much as the Canadian gold-medal hopeful for Sochi claimed first place after the short program. But he admits the one in warm-up was much better.
"I went into the quad-toe triple toe in the six-minute warm up the way I should have gone into the short program," Chan said afterward. "In the six-minute warm-up I had a lot of confidence and I didn't have any pressure. I was going to go out and if I land it, I land it… And I didn't do that in the short program. I went in a bit slow."
Chan was able to salvage the back end of the jump and continue on with an otherwise clean program that outpaced the rest of the field, a good showing for one of Canada's biggest contenders for a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics.
Chan is in first place after the men's short program, with 88.10 points, ahead of Nobunari Oda (80.82) and Yuzuru Hanyu (80.40), both of Japan. The long program will be skated on Saturday.
Chan didn't quite know why he didn't nail the introductory manoeuvre in the jump-heavy first half of his routine like he did in warm-up, just that he was doubting himself right before the jump, and neglected to turn enough. "If we could compete on practice, it would be like super easy," he joked after the skate.
Canadian Elladj Balde finished the short program in sixth place (72.35 points), while countryman Andre Rogozine sits in ninth place (68.31).
Chan said he enters this season more prepared, having focused more this summer on training, rather than travelling to skating shows. After moving to Detroit from Colorado to train, he focused on getting ready for the Olympic year. Last year too many summer skating events tired out his body - and his mind, he said.
"I treated this summer very differently from the rest," Chan said. "I really blacked out a lot of dates, I didn't want to travel anywhere for competitions or for shows, or anything like that. I really wanted to go to Detroit, where I moved over the summer, and spend a good chunk of time in Detroit to train and get familiar with the every day training, and being with my friends and getting comfortable there."