Chan to lead way in quad-fest

Patrick Chan has been the standout men's skater for 15 months, stringing together a run of eight...

Patrick Chan has been the standout men's skater for 15 months, stringing together a run of eight titles. (Mike Cassese/Reuters/Files)

PRITHA SARKAR, REUTERS

, Last Updated: 3:24 PM ET

NICE, FRANCE - Yevgeny Plushenko will be conspicuous by his absence from the world championships but if the Russian loudmouth had turned up in Nice, he might for once have been lost for words when he witnessed the quad-fest that will be on show this week.

Two years after Plushenko declared that Evan Lysacek was not the "true Olympic champion" because the American had not attempted a quad in Vancouver, the men's event is now flooded with the jump that requires skaters to complete four aerial rotations.

"The possibility (of winning the men's title without a quad) is becoming less and less because if you look at the field at last season's world championships, all the top five men were doing quads in their programmes," Canada's Patrick Chan, aiming to become the first back-to-back men's world champion since 2006, told Reuters.

"Whereas in Vancouver, only three out of the top five attempted quads. Things are changing and you now see a lot of the junior skaters also doing quads."

Plushenko, who also branded men's figure skating without a quad as 'little more than ice dancing", came out of a two-year hiatus to win his seventh European crown in January but has been forced to sit out the worlds following knee surgery.

In his absence, Chan, 2010 world gold medallist Daisuke Takahashi, U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott and Russian tyro Artur Gachinski are expected to battle it out for the top prize.

Chan has been the standout men's skater for 15 months, stringing together a run of eight titles, but his performances have been far from flawless.

This season, he has failed to show off two clean programmes in any of the four international competitions he has taken part in.

"Every time I walk on to the ice for a competition, my goal is to do a clean programme and to perform my heart out. I get goosebumps doing the programme every time," Chan said before the start of the season about his Concierto de Aranjuez free skate.

However, rather than experiencing goosebumps, Chan has had to get used to suffering a multitude of bumps and bruises.

The world champion had planned to show off his new-found love for the quadruple jumps by pulling off a quad Salchow along with a quad toeloop in his long programme.

But he abandoned those plans as executing the quad toeloop has been rather problematic for the ever-smiling Chan this season. During one attempt at the Grand Prix Final in Quebec City, he spectacularly crashed into side barriers after mistiming his lift-off.

If he should suffer the same misfortune again, figure skating's daredevil man Takahashi will be waiting in the wings to snatch back his title.

Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will also be keen to reclaim the crown they lost to their training partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White last April.

Davis and White had been riding high on a 10-event winning streak until they were upstaged last month at the Four Continents by the Canadian champions.

"Last year was a tough year. We didn't compete as much as we wanted to... as Tessa needed the surgery in her shins again. We're a lot more hungrier for this year and get that world title back," Moir told Reuters.

American White, who considers Moir as one of his best friends, added: "Winning 10 straight, it was a great run but it had come to an end sooner or later.

"We're going to use it (the defeat) as a little extra motivation for the worlds."

North Americans are also expected to be in the mix for the women's crown after U.S. champion Ashley Wagner upset twice world champion Mao Asada at the Four Continents.

Italy's Carolina Kostner, for long the butt of many jokes because of her penchant for landing on her bottom while attempting jumps, would dearly love to back up her four European golds with a world title.

Three-times champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are expected to battle it out with Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov for the pairs title.


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