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Chan basks in everything nationals has to offer

World champ defeats closest competitor by more than 62 points

Patrick Chan believes he is right on track to win his second consecutive world title.
Patrick Chan believes he is right on track to win his second consecutive world title. (AFP)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(01/22/2012) - "It's a great place to set yourself high goals, goals that you want to accomplish and get the environment that is ideal to accomplish them," Patrick Chan said about the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

At this year's championships in Moncton, New Brunswick, the reigning world men's champion not only won his fifth consecutive Canadian title but also finished an extraordinary 62.7 points ahead of silver medalist Kevin Reynolds. Despite being in another stratosphere than the rest of the competitors, Chan, 21, said he cherishes the opportunity to compete at home.

"It's easy to think that someone who's been to many world championships may overlook the national championship because it may not be important to them," said Chan, who won two Grand Prix events and the Grand Prix Final last fall. "For me, it marks an important time of the season. It's the moment where I can kind of judge where I am in my training. It marks the halfway point of the season.

"Before nationals, it's somewhat like the development of the skater. After nationals, it's where the flower blossoms. That's when you should be in your prime. Nationals are extremely important because I set goals and usually I'm able to accomplish them."

The Canadian championships are also when skaters from all over Canada get to come in direct contact with Chan. It's where the past, present and future of skating meet, and Chan said he gladly soaks up that environment.

"It kind of brings me back to reality," he said. "I used to be one of those kids. One of them is going to replace me in the future. It's so great to be a part of that, and realize I can affect their path and affect the success they have in the future and give them motivation and inspiration. That's my job. If they can leave more inspired than when they came, then I've done my job."

When he leaves the rink and heads back to the hotel or out to dinner, people come up to him and wish him well or say how proud they are of what he's accomplished. He said such recognition is an honor. He especially enjoyed the first day on official practice ice in Moncton, when local school children came to watch.

"Every time I would skate by them, they would go absolutely crazy," Chan said.

It was the third time being at the Canadian championships for Chan's coach, Christy Krall. He said they try to remain relaxed during the week and not stress out.

Training in Colorado with Krall has provided Chan with the perfect balance of acclaim and anonymity.

"It definitely keeps me away from the hype and the limelight," Chan said. "It's great to come home and go to Toronto and see all the people so excited, coming up to me, wanting pictures. It really helps make me feel good. It makes me happy.

"Then I get away from it and focus on my job. I get distracted really easily. I get really involved with people who come up to me. Colorado allows me two separate lives -- the life I have in Canada and then the life I have in Colorado, which is training and becoming world champion again."

Chan anticipates he will compete at the Four Continents Championships because they are in Colorado Springs, so there's no traveling involved. In preparing for that competition and the upcoming world championships in Nice, he doesn't anticipate making any changes to his training regimen or to his programs.

"This is the same place I was last year at nationals," he noted. "I did a great long program, great short program last year at nationals. I think the plan went great. I won worlds after that. So we're going to stick to the plan, which is keep everything the same.

"There are things I can take out from this competition and apply to Four Continents and worlds to remind myself of that feeling," Chan said. "Now that I've been able to do it in competition, it will be a lot easier to remember it and repeat it."

Canada has two men's berths at the world championships. The bronze medalist, Jeremy Ten, will be first alternate.