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Patrick Chan of Toronto performs his free program in the men's competition at the world figure skating championships in Los Angeles.

Two small errors in his free skate likely cost Patrick Chan a gold medal Thursday night at the world figure skating championships in Los Angeles.

Toronto's Chan finished second behind American Evan Lysacek and just ahead of France's Brian Joubert, who took home the bronze.

Chan's silver marks the second year in a row Canada has medalled in the men's event. Jeffrey Buttle of Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., won gold last year.

"Jeez, I thought I was just going to walk home with a bronze, but to win a silver medal is just like icing on the cake," Chan said after watching Joubert fall twice during his free skate.

"Getting off the ice, I had a huge smile on my face because I just didn't expect to be where I am now after just my second worlds, and I'm only 18. It's a big shock. It's going to be weird going back to high school, because I have to be a regular guy again."

Small mistakes proved costly

Skating to music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Chan made two errors in his free-skate program, turning a planned double toe loop into a single, and doubling a planned triple loop. The mistakes only cost him about four points in his score, but with the top three skaters so tightly bunched, there was no room for error.

Chan was third after the short program, in which many people felt the judges short-changed the Canadian in his marks. However, there were no surprised looks or jeers from the crowd about his marks in the free skate.

Lysacek turned in the skate of his life for the gold, scoring 159.53 for his long routine, 4½ points ahead of Chan's 155.03.

"I've been looking forward to this event for the last few years, ever since I found out it was coming to the Staples Center," Lysacek said. "I think that nervous energy was a positive for me, because I turned it into adrenalin."

Chan was ninth in his world championship debut last year in Sweden, but with Buttle's retirement and Chan's spectacular season heading into L.A., the young skater found himself a favourite.

He opened the season with a pair of Grand Prix victories, won the Canadian championships and then dominated a strong field to win the ISU Four Continents event last year in Vancouver.

This week, Chan found himself in the spotlight off-ice, when Joubert criticized all the male skaters who don't have a quad jump in their repertoire.

Results affect next year's Olympic team

Canada had two other skaters in the men's finals at the world championships. Vaughn Chipeur of Calgary finished 12th, and Jeremy Ten of Vancouver was 17th.

The results from the worlds determine how many skaters a country can send to next year's Vancouver Olympics. In order to qualify three skaters, a country's top two finishers at the worlds must have a combined placing of 13 or less.

Since Chan was second and Chipeur was 12th, Canada finished with a total of 14, meaning only two skaters will qualify for the Olympics via the Canadian trials.

With files from the Canadian Press