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Three-time world champ Patrick Chan scaling back quad content for Skate Canada


A recent training session that went awry has Patrick Chan scaling back his technical difficulty for Skate Canada International.

The three-time world figure skating champion remembers it was a Thursday. He was doing a run-through of his short program to "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas, and fell on the opening quadruple toe loop, fell on the quad Salchow, and fell again on the triple Axel.

"At that point I threw my hands up in the air and I was like 'At this point, I don't even want to complete the footwork sequence,' which I love personally, it's the favourite part of my program," Chan said on a recent conference call. "But because of the mistakes on the jumps, I had no desire to keep going. And because of the level of frustration that had built up over time, that was kind of the last straw that broke the camel's back."

The 26-year-old from Toronto has rewritten both his short and long programs, at least for this week's Skate Canada International meet in Regina. He'll revisit the programs again leading into what will be his third and final Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Chan has cut his short program from two quad jumps to one, and his long program — to Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" — from three quads to two, plus he'll do two triple Axels. Last season, Chan had two quad toe loops and a quad Salchow in his long program, but never successfully landed all three in one skate. He's axed the quad Salchow entirely, for now.

It's all about the enjoyment of competing.

"When I had planned to put a (Salchow) in the short and then a (Salchow) in the long, I kept thinking ahead to the moment where I had to be standing on the ice, and how do I feel in my current situation, standing there?" Chan said. "And I didn't feel very confident, I felt . . . more of a feeling of fear, and not having the confidence to attack.

"I just found myself being very, very unhappy every time I would start the program, just looking at the list of jumps that I had to complete. It was just very, very overwhelming for me."

Chan is one of the world's best all-around skaters, earning both sky-high technical and component scores. But when he took a year off from the sport after his silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, he returned to find the landscape had changed. Skaters such as Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu and American Nathan Chen were reeling off three and four quads in their long program.

The 18-year-old Chen beat Hanyu to win the Rostelecom Cup this past weekend in Moscow. He'd had an ambitious long program planned that included five different quad jumps. He downgraded slightly to four different quads, but five in total. He landed all but one, which clinched him the gold.

It's been next to impossible for Chan to catch up.

"I'll admit it, I'm not a technical genius when it comes to jumps, I've done what I needed to do to get to the top, during my prime days, I accomplished that," he said. "So for me to try and compete with the others, adding a quad flip or a quad Lutz, I don't enjoy that. And at the end of the day, I continue to push myself into the 2018 Games and my third Games because I want to enjoy it, and I need to have a realistic goal in order to enjoy it."

So for now, Chan said his goal is to focus on delivering a strong performance — minus a couple of quads.  

"It's not so much even just the quality, it's more what I want to do and what I love to do, and that is the actual performance," he said. "These two programs mean something to me, and it's a very meaningful year for me as well. So I wanted to put myself in a situation where I could attain a goal that is I could take my starting position and I would feel very confident in my ability to complete all the elements that are planned."

Skate Canada International begins Friday. Skaters compete in two of the six events on the ISU Grand Prix circuit, with the top six from each discipline earn berths in the Grand Prix Final in December.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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