There have been plenty of days Patrick Chan has questioned his decision to return to skating.
Friday wasn't one of them.
The 25-year-old from Toronto, who took 18 months off following the Sochi Olympics, looked like he'd never left in winning the short program at the Canadian figure skating championships in Halifax.
"It's a lot of fun," Chan said. "When I can skate that way, it's a blast, and I want to be here."
'This is one step forward in the right direction finally, and the rest is just cruising.' - Figure skater Patrick Chan on his dominant showing in the men's short program
Earlier Monday, Kaetlyn Osmond won the women's short program, while Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won the short dance.
Skating to Michael Buble's Mack the Knife, Chan opened with a huge quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination, then followed it up with a triple Axel, and a victorious fist pump. His score of 103.58 points gives the three-time world champion a massive lead going into the Saturday's long program.
"This is one step forward in the right direction finally, and the rest is just cruising," he said. "This was my only really stressful point of nationals, [Saturday's] a new day, but I know what I need to think about."
Liam Firus of North Vancouver, B.C., was second with 78.87, while Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., took third with 77.65.
Last year's winner Nam Nguyen, a 17-year-old from Toronto, fell on his quad and finished back in fifth.
Chan has had trouble with his short program this season, but Friday, he said, was as comfortable as he's felt during this comeback.
His coach Kathy Johnson said he'd broken through a big mental barrier.
"Thrilled thrilled thrilled for him," Johnson said. "There's something about being away from competition, it's like learning to be battle-ready again, dealing with the nerves and the pacing."
Chan has talked openly about the difficult days in his comeback, and Johnson echoed those sentiments.
"Patrick is incredibly mentally tough, he really is. He is a fierce competitor. And he is the hardest worker," she said. "Most days, he's on the ice by himself, there is no one on the ice with him."
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu set a world record score of 110.95 for the short program in December. And while Chan's points Friday aren't recognized in international scoring, they are an indication that he is making up some ground on the field.
Johnson said Chan still has some tricks in his back pocket, he regularly lands quad Salchows, for example. But they're taking a patient approach.
"He's been able to do that quad Salchow for awhile … but he brings a lot to skating that no other skater does, and he doesn't want to sacrifice [his superior skating] just to put elements in," Johnson said. "And we have a plan and we're not going to panic and rush that plan."