February 24, 2018

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Shaky skate by veteran Patrick Chan kicks off Olympic team event

GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of - The first day of Patrick Chan's final Olympics began before the sun came up.

The three-time world champion rose at 5 a.m., grabbed a coffee on the way to the bus for a 7 a.m. practice. Then it was back to the athletes village for some oatmeal, and a short rest before hopping the bus back to the Gangneung Ice Arena for a 10 a.m. competition.

The bleary-eyed Chan had a shaky skate to open Canada's gold-medal quest in the figure skating team event at the Pyeongchang Winter Games. But he wasn't the only one.

"I don't think any of us in our entire careers, even mine, have ever skated this early, or with this type of schedule. I definitley think that played a role," Chan said. "But we're not in control of that."

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GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of - The first day of Patrick Chan's final Olympics began before the sun came up.

The three-time world champion rose at 5 a.m., grabbed a coffee on the way to the bus for a 7 a.m. practice. Then it was back to the athletes village for some oatmeal, and a short rest before hopping the bus back to the Gangneung Ice Arena for a 10 a.m. competition.

The bleary-eyed Chan had a shaky skate to open Canada's gold-medal quest in the figure skating team event at the Pyeongchang Winter Games. But he wasn't the only one.

"I don't think any of us in our entire careers, even mine, have ever skated this early, or with this type of schedule. I definitley think that played a role," Chan said. "But we're not in control of that."

Skating to "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas, the three-time world champion from Toronto fell on both his quadruple toe loop and triple Axel to score 81.66, putting him in third in the men's short program.

Shoma Uno was the only skater to lay down anything resembling a clean program, scoring 103.25 to put Japan in the lead. Alexei Bychenko of Israel sits second with 88.49. American phenom Nathan Chen, considered a favourite for gold in the individual event, fell once and popped a quad jump to score 80.61.

Two-time world pairs champs Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., skate their short program later Friday.

Figure skating traditionally runs well into the night at the Olympic Game, but North American prime time television demands has it finished by the early afternoon in South Korea, throwing skaters' schedules topsy-turvy.

"I had 20 minutes on my bed laying down watching 'Friends,'" Chan said of his brief break. "And then get back up and getting everything ready and packed to go. So just felt a little more frantic."

Canada captured silver when the team event made its Olympic debut four years ago in Sochi. But boasting a veteran team that is solid across all four disciplines, the Canadians arrived in South Korea as the world No. 1-ranked team.

The team event, with its Ryder Cup vibe, sees the world's 10 top countries compete in short programs of all four disciplines. Only the five top teams move on to compete in the long program.

Unique to the team event, skaters sit in country boxes, and teammates can join competitors in the "kiss and cry." Chan was grateful after his skate to see smiling faces of his Canadian teammates. Ice dancer Scott Moir wrapped him in a huge hug.

"It sounds cheesy, but having them there, normally if it was just me by myself, I would start analyzing (my program), being disappointed in the skate, but they were all so supportive," Chan said. "No need to apologize to them or anything. I think that's the greatness of the team event, this isn't about me, this is about all of us. Each discipline can support each other, even if some of us have mistakes or bad days."

Rather than tally up total judging scores, team event scoring is based on ranking — the top skater in each discipline receives 10 points, and so on down to one point.

Russia won gold in Sochi with 75 points. Canada finished with 65, while the U.S. won bronze with 60.

The team event continues Sunday and Monday.

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