Chan battles rivals, devil on his shoulder

Wed Feb 5, 2014 7:00am EST
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SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Figure skating veteran Yevgeny Plushenko is the "talk of the town" following his controversial selection for the Sochi Olympics, but world champion Patrick Chan is more concerned about the threat posed by Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu and Daisuke Takahashi.

The 31-year-old Plushenko was picked as Russia's only male skater earlier this month despite failing to win his country's national championships.

"That is the talk of the town," Chan joked after being reminded that Plushenko was a last-minute addition to the mix.

"It is drama-filled. I mean, who would have thought that after the results at Russian nationals and Europeans that the decision was made to send him?"

Plushenko is certainly a wild card in Sochi.

He has been virtually absent from competition since earning a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games - opting to skip every world championships in the last Olympic cycle and undergoing back surgery.

When he does lace up his boots for Sochi, the Russian showman will find the skating landscape radically changed from his last global outing in Vancouver - when Chan finished 5th.

While four years ago only a few of the men's challengers attempted difficult quadruple jumps - Evan Lysacek triumphed without in Canada - all the top skaters now do.

Plushenko will have to prove he can still throw himself through the air and stick landings in Sochi.   Continued...

Patrick Chan of Canada skates during a figure skating training session in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 2, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson