Torontos Chan runs away with Canadian mens figure skating title

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SASKATOON - Patrick Chan didn't think of himself as the defending champion on Sunday. This was all about attacking.
The 18-year-old overcame a stumble early in his free program to demolish the competition and capture his second consecutive men's singles title at the Canadian figure skating championships.
With his sites set squarely on the world championships two months from now in Los Angeles, Chan skated like he was already there, scoring 165.93 for his free program to Rachmaninov, and 254.82 overall - a Canadian record under the new judging system that was implemented in 2003.
"A lot of people said, `good luck, but you don't need it,' before my long program," Chan said. "Don't say that, because I still want to have the mindset where I've got American, Japanese, Russians going after me, competing after me so basically I had that mindset, and it helped. It really helped.
"That's the approach I had, more of an attack instead of defensive."
Vaughn Chipeur of Calgary held onto second, scoring 134.41 for his free program for 206.30 overall. Jeremy Ten of Vancouver took the bronze, earning 134.97 points for his free skate for a total 204.03. All three were named to the teams for the Four Continents next month in Vancouver and the world championships in March.
Chan upset Jeffrey Buttle to win last year's Canadian championships in Vancouver, and then Buttle went on to win the world championships with a score of 245.17 - the previous Canadian record.
Chan was thrust into the skating spotlight in the fall when Buttle unexpectedly announced his retirement. The younger skater has certainly shown he belongs there, and now he would love nothing more than to follow Buttle to the top of the world podium.
"If I perform two good programs like that I'm pretty sure I'll get the same result as Jeff did at last year's worlds," Chan said. "Why not? Sure, the marks here are inflated, but it's only inflated by maximum of five to 10 points, and even with that minus-10 points, I think I could still really be on the top of the podium. I'm not going to predict a gold, I'm going to predict a medal, it doesn't matter which colour."
"OK, it matters. . . I guess so," he added laughing.
Chan's performance in Saskatoon was world-class. His score was the third highest under the revamped scoring system - only Daisuke Takahashi of Japan (264.41) and Russia's Evgeni Plushenko (258.33) have scored higher.
"I'm speechless, I haven't even had time to think about," Chan said. "I'm going to take that and it will really help me training, to think, wow, I really am in the top three highest marks, even with one mistake."
Chan's victory was never really in doubt. He skated a near-perfect short program on Friday, giving him a whopping 17-point lead over Chipeur heading into Sunday's free program.
He uncharacteristically stumbled on his triple flip early in the free program, but roared back, landing two triple Axels, a jump that has proved troublesome recently. He failed to land a triple Axel in either the short or long program at last month's Grand Prix Final in South Korea, finishing a disappointing fifth after going in as the No. 1 seed.
"The second triple Axel for sure," Chan said on the highlight of his performance. "I really focused and thought about it (Saturday) night before going to bed. I couldn't go to bed because I kept thinking about it, and I think I've come over that hump, hopefully."
Chan praised the crowd at the Credit Union Centre.
"It was like they were my subconscious because they knew what I was going through," he said. "Every time I landed the Axel, the cheer was louder, especially after that second Axel, I knew everyone was hoping for me to land it because I've been working on it all season."
Chipeur, meanwhile, had a strong opening to his performance with a huge triple Axel, and also drew a standing ovation with his energy and athleticism.
A day earlier, Joannie Rochette of Ile-Dupas, Que., captured the women's singles title, coming from behind to beat Cynthia Phaneuf of Contrecoeur, Que.
Jessica Dube of Drummondville, Que., and Bryce Davison of Cambridge, Ont., bronze medallists at last year's world championships, won the Canadian pairs title, but were forced to battle from behind to edge Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Craig Buntin of Kelowna, B.C.
Tessa Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ont., ran away with the dance title in their first competition since they won silver at the world championships.

Organizations: Credit Union Centre

Geographic location: SASKATOON, Vancouver, Los Angeles Calgary Japan Russia South Korea Ile-Dupas Contrecoeur, Que Drummondville Cambridge Kelowna London, Ont. Ilderton

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