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Canadian Patrick Chan wins silver medal again at world championships

From his position on the podium, Patrick Chan took hold of his medal and held it up for a closer inspection.

TURIN, Italy - From his position on the podium, Patrick Chan took hold of his medal and held it up for a closer inspection.

It may have been silver, but pausing to look back on how far he had come from the malady and mishap that dogged him for much of the season, the prize felt pretty close to gold. Chan captured silver at the world figure skating championships Thursday, putting the disappointment of a trying year firmly behind him.

"Silver medal is a gold medal for me this year, considering all the hardships from the beginning," Chan said. "I think this is by far the most challenging season, the season I'll remember the most because I learned 80 per cent of what I have to learn in my athletic career in this one year.

"So next year will be a breeze."

The Toronto native finished with 247.22 points, scoring 159.42 points in a free skate to Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera," that was shaky in parts and left him about 10 points back of Daisuke Takahashi of Japan.

Takahashi, the Olympic bronze medallist and the leader after the short program, scored 168.40 in the free skate for a total of 257.70, capturing Japan's first men's title.

"It was hard but I did the best performance of my year here in Turin," said Takahashi, who two-footed the landing on a quad in an otherwise dazzling skate. "I'm proud to be the first Japanese man to win a world title even if I didn't give a perfect performance."

Former world champion Brian Joubert of France, who was third after the short program, landed two quads but fell on a triple Lutz and ended up with a total of 241.74 for bronze in a field that was missing both Olympic gold medallist Evan Lysacek of the U.S., and runner-up Evgeni Plushenko of Russia.

Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., finished 11th.

On the heels of a short program that was arguably the best skate of his season, Chan looked off-kilter for the first couple of minutes Thursday, falling on his triple Loop and struggling to hold the landings on a triple Axel and triple Salchow.

"Of course it's disappointing, my heartrate was really racing when Daisuke was skating," Chan said. "it just wasn't my day, what can you do, you just move on, work hard, and see what I could do better next time. I'm looking forward to next year, and the Grand Prix season and being there from the beginning to the end instead of halfway like this year."

The world championships wrapped up a roller-coaster season for Chan, who endured a bad bout of the flu that led to a torn calf muscle that sidelined him for most of the early season, and he arrived in Vancouver with just two competitions under his belt - Skate Canada, where he finished a shocking sixth, and the Canadian championships, where he capured his third straight title. Then just a month before the Games, his coach Don Laws unexpectedly announced he was quitting.

The 19-year-old wilted under the pressure at the Vancouver Games, finishing fifth in his Olympic debut.

"He's very motivated because I know it was a really strange year for him and he learned so much," said Lori Nichol, his coach and choreographer. "It's like once you open the door to one bit of knowledge all of a sudden it's like an ocean flooding in, and he's like a kid in a candy store with knowledge right now, so he's really pumped with all the things he's learning."

Chan, who also captured silver at the world championships last spring in Los Angeles, already has his sights set on next year's world championships and further ahead to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"To come out of here with two silver medals in a row is just amazing," said Chan. "I hope the two silvers will add up to a gold next year."

The young skater who's known more for his exquisite footwork, precision spins and interpretation of the music, plans to add a quad to his arsenal next season, in his quest to be dominant on the world skating stage.

"He's been doing fantastic quad toes, so he can't wait to put that in the program," Nichol said.

Chan's teammates and Olympic gold medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are poised to capture their first world championship title.

Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., won the original dance program Thursday to maintain their lead heading into Friday's free dance with a score of 114.40 points.

"Technically that felt like a stronger skate than Olympics, I'm not sure about emotionally, performance-wise, but for sure technically that felt stronger and more powerful than the Games," Virtue said.

"It was a bit different minus 10,000 Canadians in the rink, and whatever 33 million across Canada cheering you on," Moir added. "I think we were ready for it to be a different here this week, but we're still happy with how the Italian crowd greeted us, we were very happy with the skate."

Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, silver medallists in Vancouver and good friends and training partners of Virtue and Moir, are right behind them in second with 112.54. Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy are third with 100.01.

Vanessa Crone of Aurora, Ont., and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., are eighth.

Reynolds' finish was key to Canadian men's figure skating next season as now the team will have three men's berths at next year's world championships. A country needs two results to total no more than 13 to earn three spots for next season, and Chan's silver and Reynolds' 11th-place was just enough.