Champ Chan feeling 'great'

Patrick Chan holds his gold medal he won in the men's competition at the BMO Canadian Figures...

Patrick Chan holds his gold medal he won in the men's competition at the BMO Canadian Figures Skating Championships in London on Sunday, Jan. 17. (DEREK RUTTAN, QMI Agency)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

In an Olympic season full of mishaps, Patrick Chan can feel things starting to turn around.

Heck, he's even confident enough now to cheat training a little bit and treat himself to a hamburger (from sponsor McDonald's, no doubt).

“Why not,” the 19-year-old said with a grin after putting an exclamation mark on his third straight national title at the Canadian figure skating championships before 5,874 Sunday night at London’s John Labatt Centre.

After a shaky start, the Toronto native recovered to score 177.88 points in his long program for a Canadian record total of 268.02.

Edmonton’s Vaughn Chipeur (222.10) will join him on the Canadian team after fending a late challenge from Coquitlam, B.C.’s quad-jumping Kevin Reynolds (216.49 points), who finished second to Chan in the free skate.

“It’s not about the points, it’s about how I feel during the skate,” Chan said, “and I feel great about what happened here. It would’ve been nice to have it earlier (in the season), but this is what I wanted and I can’t wait to get into the athletes’ village (in Vancouver).”

It didn’t look like the 2009 worlds silver medalist would be ready in time.

His progress kept getting interrupted.

A coaching split with Don Laws.

A calf injury suspected to have been caused from a bout of H1N1 flu.

He came to London facing all kinds of questions that threatening to twist him all over the ice.

But after two reaffirming skates, he’s heading in just one direction — west to Vancouver.

“With what happened to me, I just wanted to come here and get my feet back under me,” Chan said. “I know there’s room for improvement but I have four weeks to get ready. I’m so excited to be going to the Olympics.”

So jazzed, he said he just might sleep in his Team Canada jacket.

And at least one rich Phantom of the Opera-themed long program — Chan’s — is going to the Games. Ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who skated to the same music, missed out on their Olympic trip by 3/10ths of a point on Saturday night.

Chan struggled on a couple of early jumps but didn’t let it get in his head.

In fact, he got stronger to the finish.

“That’s the training,” he said. “At the start, I would’ve puked out my guts after (performing it). But when you put in the work and you can perform it at altitude (at home base in Colorado Springs), then doing it at sea level (in Vancouver) shouldn’t be a problem.

“That was the plan.”

If he’s right, then Chan’s free skate here just might come to define his season.

“He started out shaky and came on stronger as the program went on,” co-coach and choreographer Lori Nichol said. “His history had always been starting great and then . . .”

She waved her hand to indicated a levelling off.

While everyone at the Olympics will be talking quads around the men, Chan has another weapon — his stunning step sequence.

“A technical specialist (she knows) said his (30-second) step sequence is the same as (landing) a quad,” Nichol said. “It is to be revered.”

Chipeur, meanwhile, heard the crowd erupt for Reynolds’ performance. He countered with a solid long program that got him to the Games on the same rink where he finished 11th in his first senior nationals.

“I’m someone who tends to watch the other skaters,” the 25-year-old said, “and it gets me pumped up when I hear the crowd getting into it. So I have to give a thank you to Kevin for warming up the crowd like that.”

Reynolds, who finished second to Chan at the 2005 junior nationals here, reached the podium for the first time at seniors. But it wasn’t enough to make a hometown Olympics dream come true.

“There was a lot of pressure because I had to come from 11 points back (from his short program),” the 19-year-old said. “I gave it my all. I just have to take this performance with me the rest of the season.”


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