Patrick Chan in 3rd place in men's short program figure skating team event
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu sits in 1st place
Canada's Patrick Chan didn't get off to the start he may have wanted in the men's short program in the inaugural team figure skating event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on Thursday.
The three-time world champion and seven-time Canadian national champion, skating to Elegie in E Flat minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff, looked shaky at points during his routine at the Iceberg Skating Palace and earned a total score of 89.71, good enough for third place.
"All I can say is it was getting used to the buzz in the rink after practising so long by myself, me myself and I," said Chan, who had been practising alone earlier this week. "It's different to be able to skate in a crowd and with other skaters, other skaters I haven't practised with, all those things play a factor."
The 23-year-old Toronto native is searching for his first Olympic medal and is trying to improve on a fifth-place finish at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"There was that feeling that I want to be so perfect because people are watching, I feel like the centre of attention. All those little things crept into my mind," Chan said. "Now I can go out... and just to go for it, and go for the landings, and attack the landings.
"I think I was a little passive on the landings, just letting it happen as opposed to really sticking them."
Japanese sensation Yuzuru Hanyu skated a near-flawless routine, earning a score of 97.98 for first place. The 19-year-old is competing in his first Olympics but has already built an impressive resume in his young career.
He’s the 2012 world bronze medallist and the Grand Prix Final champion in 2013, beating out Chan, who finished second. Hanyu set a world record in the short program at that event (99.84).
Hometown favourite and Russian figure skating legend Evgeni Plushenko delivered for his fans.
The 31-year-old landed a well-executed triple Axel as part of his men's short program, helping him earn a score of 91.39 and had him sitting in first place with several skaters still to compete, as the crowd gave him an ovation after his skate. He would later rescind that lead to Hanyu.
China's Yan Han, a 17-year-old competing in his first Olympics, executed a spectacular triple Axel as part of his routine to earn a score of 85.52. China sits in fourth place. France's Florent Amodio, 23, is in fifth (79.93).
Plushenko has proven himself on the Olympic stage, having medalled in three straight Winter Games. The three-time world champion won silver in 2002 in Salt Lake City, gold at the 2006 Games in Turin and is the defending Vancouver 2010 silver medallist.
"I already win for myself, because after 12 surgeries in my body, I can skate for [a] fourth time in [the] Olympic Games," said Plushenko, who won silver in 2002 and 2010, gold in 2006. "So it's already good."
American Jeremy Abbott struggled with inconsistencies, stumbling early in his routine which led to his lowest score of the season; a disappointing 65.65. He will not be moving on to the long program.
Also eliminated from competing in the long program were Germany (sixth), Ukraine (eighth), Great Britain (ninth) and Italy (10th).
The new team event includes one entry in each of the four disciplines from the top 10 countries in the world. Each country will field a competitor in men’s and ladies’ singles, pairs and ice dance. The top five countries after the short programs will move on to the long programs, while placement points will be handed out to the athletes.
First-place finishers will earn 10 points, and second-place competitors will get nine points, etc., with the highest combined totals earning medals.
Later on Thursday, Canadian skaters Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford finished second in pairs short, giving Canada 17 total points (in addition to Chan's eight points for his third-place finish).
After the men's and pairs short programs, Russia leads with 19 points, followed by Canada and China (15).
Each country gets a chance to switch up two competitors between the short and long programs, which may mean Chan would give way to Kevin Reynolds after the short, while Dylan Moscovitch and Kirsten Moore-Towers may replace Duhamel and Radford.
The team event provides the Canucks -- who are considered to be among the favourites heading into the event -- with another opportunity to win a medal.
Next up in the team event are the ice dance short, ladies’ short and pairs free programs on Saturday (beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET).
The event wraps up Sunday with the men’s and ladies’ free, followed by the ice dance free which will determine the medallists.
(With files from The Associated Press & The Canadian Press)