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FIGURE SKATING

Patrick Chan wins Four Continents title

Canadian will have home-ice advantage at the Olympics next year. Evan Lysacek rebounds to finish second.

February 08, 2009|Helene Elliott

VANCOUVER, CANADA — Patrick Chan was deaf to the roars that filled the Pacific Coliseum after his free skate performance Saturday.

True, his finale at the Four Continents figure skating championships wasn't as brilliant as his short program had been. He popped a triple axel, but he gracefully landed another in a routine that was artistically pleasing too.

Fans bellowed their approval, hoping this test event for the Vancouver Olympics will be a template for him to prevail here a year from now. He alone was calm.

"I guess I was kind of speechless," he said. "This whole hype about the Olympics, it's like I won't be satisfied until I win the Olympic Games, or at least get a medal.

"You'll see emotion at worlds for sure if I end up on the podium."

By defeating a strong field the 18-year-old Canadian established himself as a medal favorite at the world championships next month in Los Angeles. But Evan Lysacek, dispirited by finishing third at the recent U.S. championships, re-entered the picture with a runner-up performance highlighted by his first clean quadruple jump this season, a quadruple toe loop in his free skate to Gershwin music.

"It was kind of starting to be a little bit of a monkey on my back this year," he said. "I think I'll take a lot from this competition."

Chan won both segments to finish with a season-best 249.19 points. Lysacek was second in both programs, earning a season-best 227.15 points. Third place went to Japan's Takahiko Kozuka.

Only the absence of European champion Brian Joubert of France kept this from being a dress rehearsal for the world championships. European skaters don't compete here.

"It used to be a lot of the top athletes would pass [this] and take a rest before worlds," Lysacek said. "Now it's become sort of the superpower competition for men -- and for the ladies."

It was less than super for the other two American men. U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott dropped from fourth after the short program to fifth after popping his quad to a double and falling on a triple lutz. U.S. runner-up Brandon Mroz touched his hand down on his quadruple toe loop and made several other errors, including a fall on a triple axel. He slipped from fifth to eighth.

After skating two excellent programs at the Canadian championships Chan said he could win a medal at the world competition with similar performances. This result reinforced his confidence.

"If I do both triple axels and all the other triples in the long program, as well as a clean short, I think I could get a gold medal at worlds," he said.

Joubert and Lysacek might have something to say about that.

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helene.elliott@latimes.com

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