NEWS
03/31/2016 17:27 EDT | Updated 04/01/2017 01:12 EDT

Worlds championships are a step along road to 2018 Olympics for Chan

BOSTON — Patrick Chan has unfinished business.

The 25-year-old from Toronto goes into Friday's long program at the world figure skating championships in third place, poised to win his sixth world medal.

But regardless of the outcome, it's all part of a measured plan that will lead Canada's three-time world champion back to the Olympic ice, and hopefully a sense of satisfaction. 

"Patrick would like to have his Olympic moment," said his coach Kathy Johnson. "To skate two good programs for himself, put two good programs out there on Olympic ice. For himself."

Chan walked away from competing after his silver medal performance at the Sochi Olympics. The second place finish was all the more heartbreaking since gold was virtually his for the taking. Chan took the ice after an error-filled free program by Japanese rival Yuzuru Hanyu, but his wasn't any better.  

Moments after he finished third in Wednesday's short program despite a fall on his triple Axel, Chan said he's already exceeded his own expectations for this comeback season.

Hanyu skated a flawless program that included two quad jumps, and will take a score of 110.56 into Friday's free skate. Defending champion Javier Fernandez of Spain is second with 98.52, while Chan's score was 94.84 points.

Chan has had to play catchup this season as his rivals loaded up their programs with quad jumps. Hanyu and Fernandez both had two quads, which are worth major points, in their short programs, and will have three in their long programs.

China's Jin Boyang made history at the Four Continents championships with four quads in his long program.

Chan had one in his short and will have two in his long program. But while Chan has fewer big jumps, he traditionally outscores his opponents on the quality of the jumps he does, plus other elements such as the spins and footwork and overall strength and artistry.

"Whether I think (the focus on quad jumps) is good or bad, it doesn't matter," Chan said. "I skate around these guys, and they're young and they're able to do these massive jumps. But for me, I like to let them go guns blazing. 

"I'm just there doing my own methodical work, very thoughtful, and I'm thinking about every single step of the program. I'm not just blaring into my jumps and going for it, and being disappointed if I fall on a jump, because there's so much more to skating than just the jumps."

Chan did add a second triple Axel to his long program this season, and for the first time in his career landed two quads and two triple Axels in his long program. That was at the Four Continents last month, where he roared back from fifth place after the short program to win gold.

"He's got incredibly explosive jump," Johnson said. "I think the number of jumps, a lot of things have to come out of a program when you are adding. It's going to be balancing how many jumps you want to put in there and how much you want to sacrifice in the other parts of skating to make that happen.

"(Chan) has a really strong opinion about what he feels skating is. He is still pushing himself forward and will continue to do that but he wants the whole package, he wants to do that without sacrificing the other things he brings to the sport."

Part of their patient approach to Chan's comeback, Johnson said, is about avoiding injuries. Chan is now one of the older skaters in the field.

"When you are 25, you have to be more careful," the coach said. "I've seen a lot of comebacks where people have done too much, too soon, and haven't been able to maintain it. It's not going to be in panic mode. It's going to be a little more measured on the road to 2018."

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press