Chan has strong words after third-place short

Canadians perplexed after Joubert wins first round

Patrick Chan put his finger to his lips to hush the boos after his short program scores were announced at the 2009 World Championships.
Patrick Chan put his finger to his lips to hush the boos after his short program scores were announced at the 2009 World Championships. (Getty Images)


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By Mickey Brown, special to
(03/26/2009) - Patrick Chan is making noise in L.A., and not in the way most people expected.

The Ottawa-born Chan usually lets his skating do the talking, but this week he's backing up his on-ice performances with some strong words.

It started Tuesday when he called out Brian Joubert for the Frenchman's insistence that the best men's skaters in the world should have quads.

In yesterday's short program, Joubert put his hand down on the landing of his opening quad-triple combination. He was awarded 84.40 points, while Chan, armed with only a bunch of triples, received a score of 82.55 points for a program that did not have a significant error in it.

Then Chan arrived in the mixed zone and really let it fly. He flatly stated that the reason Joubert's program components score was higher than his was because "he's got more experience at the world level."

To anyone who follows the sport, Chan's implication isn't shocking. The fact that he said it in such an open forum, knowing full well that those words could come back to bite him somewhere down the line, is surprising.

Everything about Chan's skating is understated. He doesn't express the wild emotion of an Evan Lysacek, he doesn't lose himself in a program like a Johnny Weir, and he doesn't possess the bravado of a Joubert. Style-wise, he resembles Japanese stars Nobunari Oda and Takahiko Kozuka more than his North American and European counterparts. (Both of Chan's parents are from Hong Kong).

But there's been nothing understated about his comments this week, and you have to wonder if that's by design. Is he speaking out because he feels that's the only way to really get noticed? Is he trying to plant a seed in the judges' heads that he's deserving of the same kinds of scores as the two men he's looking up at in the standings?

He shouldn't have to. Chan's high score this season is more than 17 points higher than Joubert's and 12 points better than that of Lysacek. In fact, the 249.19 total Chan put up last month in Vancouver is the highest mark of any man this season -- and all the men immediately below him on the 2008-09 high-score list (Jeremy Abbott, Lysacek, Oda, Joubert, Kozuka) all feature quads.

Chan's already proven he can beat Lysacek and Joubert head to head, having bettered the former twice this year, once at Skate Canada and again at Four Continents, and vanquishing the latter at this season's Trophée Eric Bompard, an event Chan won and at which Joubert finished off the podium.

You don't have to go back very far to find an example of a men's skater winning worlds by skating two clean programs, neither of which included a quad. Chan is hoping to follow in the footsteps of countryman Jeffrey Buttle and give Canada the first back-to-back world champions from the same country since Alexei Yagudin and Evgeni Plushenko in 2002 and 2003.

If he does that, this whole "quad vs. no quad" debate will, or at least should, be put to rest. If he doesn't, well, let's just say the post-free skate press conference -- provided Chan's a part of it -- could be mighty eventful.