Chan the fall guy but Canada rise to the top in team skate
Gangneung, Feb 9 (AFP) Dual Sochi 2014 silver medallist Patrick Chan was among the star names to take a tumble but Canada still asserted their position as favourites for Winter Olympic figure skating team gold today.
American quad wonder Nathan Chen and Russia's European champion Mikhail Kolyada also fell on the first day of action at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
That opened the door for Japan to top the early table after an impressive skate from Shoma Uno, proving more than an able deputy to the absent Yuzuru Hanyu.
In the following pairs short programme Canadian duo Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford took second behind European champions Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov from Russia to propel Canada from third to first on 17 points.
American couple Alexa and Chris Knierim produced a season's best to leave the USA in the silver medal position, three points adrift, with Japan in third.
The 27-year-old Chan tumbled on his opening quadtoe loop and again on a triple axel.
"It's not the best start I wanted, but I have the support of my teammates," the three-time former world champion said.
"They make me feel so much better even when it's not the best skate, they are holding me up and making me feel like I belong here. That's the best thing about the team event."
He added: "I am the type of skater that takes time, since I've gotten older, to warm up and to get up to the quads and get comfortable in competition.
"This is a long two weeks and I am not going to look back too much, and it's a good opportunity to get the early jitters out."
The Canadian star was in good company, as American men's gold medal hope Chen also slipped up.
The 18-year-old had both hands on the floor after missing a quad toeloop, bringing gasps from the crowd.
Chen was kicking himself for his error-strewn showing.
"Definitely not a representation of who I am and what I can do. Definitely need to work harder for the next couple of days," he said.
The man they call the quad king added: "I definitely let the rest of the team down so I feel bad in that regard.
"But I think that it was a good opportunity for me to put myself out there and make silly mistakes.
"In the individual I'll be more ready."
- Uno unfazed -
The Russian team, winners of the inaugural team event in Sochi four years ago, sit fourth -- albeit on the same points as Japan -- in their Pyeongchang guise as neutrals with the country serving a doping ban.
Only selected Russian athletes deemed to be drug-free are allowed to compete in South Korea.
Uno, runner-up to Japanese ice idol Hanyu at last year's world championships, produced a near-blemish-free short programme to put Japan briefly top of the pile, outscoring his rivals by almost 15 points.
"It is my first time coming to the Olympics but I wasn't as anxious as I thought." said the 21-year-old.
Hanyu is skipping the team competition to give his body every chance of being at its best in Pyeongchang after suffering a serious ankle injury in the run-up to the defence of his Sochi 2014 crown.
The team competition continues on Sunday and concludes Monday