Patrick Chan's early struggles in Sochi don't concern Skate Canada's Michael Slipchuk

Patrick Chan in the men's short program of the team event at the Sochi Olympics on Feb. 6 (Ben...

Patrick Chan in the men's short program of the team event at the Sochi Olympics on Feb. 6 (Ben Pelosse, QMI Agency)

Steve Buffery, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:48 PM ET

Skate Canada high performance director Michael Slipchuk is not about to write off Patrick Chan.

Chan, the three-time defending world men's singles champion, looked less than spectacular in the team short program on Thursday night, finishing third behind Russian veteran Evgeni Plushenko and Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu,

Chan downgraded a planned triple toe on the back end of his quad toe-triple toe jump combo into a double, and then he staggered out of his triple Axel to finish with 89.71 points. Not a great night of work for the Toronto skater. And it hasn't been a particularly great season for Chan, other than his sensational performance at the 2013 Eric Bompard Trophee Grand Prix in Paris where he set world records in the short, long and overall scores. His inconsistency this season has many fans worried, although don't count Slipchuk as one of them.

"You know the discussion could be reversed," said Slipchuk, when asked what he thought of Chan's performance at the Iceberg Skating Palace. "It could have been, 'He was amazing on Thursday, how is he going to do it next week?' This is part of the process, and I said to Patrick, it's no different than in 2010 with the men's hockey team. Everyone forgets they lost to the U.S. and barely squeaked by the Swiss (winning in a shoot out 3-2). But at the end of the day, if you're on top, no one remembers what happened along the way.

"This the team event and if our team is on the podium, that's something that these skaters will have forever," added Slipchuk.

Chan's third-place performance in the team event gave Canada eight points. Combine that with the nine points earned by the pairs duo of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford for finishing second, and Canada sits in second in the new Olympic competition, with two more short programs and the four long programs to go.

It's almost certain that Chan will not skate in the team long program on Sunday but will pass that assignment off to teammate Kevin Reynolds, who finished second behind Chan at the nationals and fifth at the 2013 world championships. That gives Chan six days to get ready for the individual men's singles event. Slipchuk believes Chan's mistakes on Thursday night are easily correctable and that he's still the man to beat for the gold medal in the individual men's singles competition.

"He had a few little things, but technically, his stuff was good," said Slipchuk. "If anything, the quad was a bit big and the Axel was a bit big. But they weren't out of control, they were just big. It's just getting that comfort out there."

Reynolds was beyond excited about the prospect of skating in the team event.

"I'd be completely honoured," said the 23-year-old Coquitlam, B.C. native. "It will be a good warmup up for me: Get the atmosphere of the competition, get my legs under me a little bit and then I'll be more prepared for the singles event."

Skate Canada confirmed on Friday that Edmonton's Kaetlyn Osmond will skate in the team short program in women's singles on Saturday while defending Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will skate the ice dance short.

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch are expected to take over from Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford and skate the long program in the pairs, though that won't be made official until all four short programs are completed.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @beezersun


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