Chan crashes and burns

BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:05 PM ET

KITCHENER -- Patrick Chan could win a gold medal for optimism.

Unfortunately, optimism, isn't an Olympic event.

Chan fell three times yesterday in the men's final at Skate Canada. He spent more time pushing ice chips than the Zamboni. And, it showed in the final results. Just three months from the Olympics, Chan finished sixth.

Coming off a quad injury and the flu he might not have been expected to win his 2009 Grand Prix debut. But few expected him to look both rusty and tired. He still can mesmerize with his footwork in a program set to Phantom of the Opera that has stunning potential. But last night he was just stunningly bad.

He fell on a triple axel at the midpoint in his program.

"The adrenalin is flowing so much you don't feel the pain. You just want to get going again," said Chan, who has continued to be a picture of good humour throughout the lost weekend.

That fall precipitated his second crash on a triple-lutz jump combination.

"Getting back up to get going for the lutz, three-jump combination was difficult. I need a lot of speed and when I fell I had none and had to try to build it back."

Then, fatigue set in.

"I lost three-quarters of my gas halfway through the program. I was disappointed in that because I trained really hard."

But worry?

Chan, predicted to be among Canada's best shots for a medal in Vancouver, remained nonplussed. He expected problems.

"Look, it's my first Grand Prix. If it was the beginning of the season I don't think it would be as big a concern for people. But it isn't (a concern) for me," he said of playing catch-up to the rest of the field. "This is what I have to experience ... to get to the Olympics."

If he isn't worrying, there are plenty of others doing it for him.

"There's a concern of course. Everybody's talking 83, 82 days so it's hard not to think about it. I have to stay in the present."

American Jeremy Abbott won with a 232.99 score, followed by Japan's Daisuke Takahashi and Alban Preaubert of France at 212.28. Chan normally has no problem achieving those scores. So how bad was he? He finished with a 198.77, more than 50 points of his personal best.

"Maybe I did too much in the warmup. Maybe that's one reason I was so tired at the end. I'll have to see what I need to change, to tweak a little bit," Chan said. He won't get much chance. Because his injury kept him out of earlier Grand Prix events, he's not eligible for the final in Japan where most of his competition in Vancouver will get another tuneup.

His only other major competition between now and the Olympics are the nationals. Behind this weekend's grins and the bravado maybe Chan has just begun to realize how long the road back might be.

BILL.LANKHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


Photos