COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Patrick Chan has developed a short memory when it comes to miscues.
Shaking off a poor morning practice session, the world champion from Toronto nailed his program Friday night in the men's free skate to win the Four Continents figure skating championships. Chan, also the 2009 winner, had a season-best 185.99 points to take the title with 273.94 points.
"This whole week was a big test for me," Chan said. "It wasn't easy, and it wasn't like I just walked in and thought I was going to have it in the bag. Coming into the long (program), I was very unsure and very nervous — more nervous than I've been in this past year and a half.
"But with the program, I just went with the flow. I knew that, if I just let things go, it would happen the way I wanted it to."
Chan easily outdistanced Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, the Vancouver Olympics bronze medallist and defending Four Continents champion. Takahashi earned 161.74 points in the free skate and 244.33 overall.
Takahashi was unable to stick to his program, turning a triple axel into a double early in his routine, but was still pleased with his showing.
"I missed two jumps, and my performance was not so good, but I am still happy," Takahashi said. "Overall, my performance (for the competition) was not bad, but I have many points to improve. I just need to continue to practice and work hard."
Chan spent the afternoon trying to settle his nerves by walking around downtown Colorado Springs — the city where he trains — and the regrouping session paid off.
"During that whole time, I was just scared, nervous and was having doubts," Chan said about his pre-performance walk. "But I got here, did what I needed to do and got to the 6-minute warmup and felt great. Just the environment and the energy felt good, and I felt like I was where I was supposed to be."
A morning practice full of miscues could have derailed the 21-year-old star, but he rose to the challenge in the free skate.
"This week, I learned a lot about not getting hung up on little things from practice or on feelings from off the ice," Chan said. "This morning's practice was great for me, actually. I think I needed the mistakes to kind of wake me up, get me back on my feet and remind myself that this is not a walk in the park."
Chan remained focused not only on the Four Continents event, but also where the 14-year-old competition fell in his long-term plans.
"I think some of my success comes from not taking things for granted and taking each competition seriously," he said. "For me, this is still a building step to the Sochi Olympics."
American Ross Miner, the 2012 U.S. bronze medallist , survived a fall in the free skate to post a season-best 146.34-point score and earn the bronze with 223.23 points. He narrowly edged fellow American Adam Rippon, the 2012 U.S. silver medallist and 2010 Four Continents champion, for a spot on the medal stand. Rippon had a season-best 146.63-point score to finish at 221.55.
"The goal for me coming in was for a new season's best," said Miner, who will sit out next month's World Championships because the United States can only send two skaters to the event in Nice, France. "(Medaling) was just the cherry on the top, the icing on the cake. It wasn't actually my best performance, but my run-through and my coach running around and trying to murder me obviously paid off."
Rippon felt good about his performance, which came just 10 days after the U.S. Championships.
"I told myself that I was well-trained and I worked really hard for nationals, and I just really wanted to keep that momentum going," Rippon said. "This wasn't as strong, but I don't really think I showed much weakness or letdown from nationals."
Earlier, Canada's Amelie Lacoste and Cynthia Phaneuf are in a near deadlock with a world championship team berth on the line.
Lacoste, the reigning Canadian champion from Delson, Que., is seventh after the women's short program Friday with 51.72 points.
Phaneuf, from Contrecoeur, Que., trails in eighth at 50.76 points.
The Canadian women's entry for world championships will be named following their performances at this week's competition.
"I'm disappointed with my performance," said Lacoste. "My training has been very strong since the nationals with many perfect runs. I missed my triple Lutz today, which I have been landing successfully all week. All I can do is forget about this and start fresh tomorrow."
Phaneuf fell twice in her program and had trouble finding her rhythm early on.
"I think I just warmed up too much and lost my legs," she said. "But I'm still in contention for the world championship berth and tomorrow is going to be like a new competition."
Mao Asada of Japan, the 2010 world champion, leads at 64.25, recently crowned American champion Ashley Wagner is second at 64.07 and Kanako Murakami of Japan follows in third at 63.45.
Alexandra Najarro of Richmond Hill, Ont., stands 14th.