Canada's Patrick Chan seems to know instinctively there are going to be bumps in the road on his journey to what he hopes will be a future world championship.
And as long as you don't blow a tire or destroy the transmission, there's always another signpost up ahead.
Saturday at the Cup of Russia in Moscow, Chan fell three times in his long program — including the opening quad — as Tomas Verner passed him for the gold in the Grand Prix event.
Chan, who had led after the short program, finished second but still qualified for a berth in December's Grand Prix final in China by combining this with a win at Skate Canada two weeks back.
"It's a disappointing performance here, but there's always another time to prove yourself," he said, on a conference call from Russia. "There are so many things I'm good at, and I can't get it done in the program and in competition [right now] so there's a lot of work I have to do."
He said all that with the same calm, measured tones he uses after a win or a loss. Just maintaining an even strain.
"I'm always improving and always striving to be the best, and you're not going to be the best right away," he said. "It takes steps, and these are steps I'm going to take."
Miki Ando of Japan gritted her way through serious back pain to win the women's gold, soaring past four challengers who were ahead of her after the short program. They included her countrywoman Akiko Suzuki, who took silver, and American Ashley Wagner, who finished third.
In pairs, Russia's Yuko Kavagut and Alexander Smirnov easily won the gold with tightly synchronized spins and long throws. Japan's Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran took silver and Americans Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig were third.
Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev won the ice dance, followed by Nora Hoffman and Maxim Zavozin of Hungary and Russia's Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov.
Verner wins without quad
Chan wasn't the best on Saturday. Verner was, despite a few difficulties of his own.
The Czech champion, who moved to Toronto this past summer to train with new coaches Robert Emerson and Vlasta Koprivova, didn't try a quad, but kept from falling. He did step out of two triple axels.
Verner's final free skate score of 156.21 bettered Chan's 145.25 and Samuel Contesti of Italy's 141.61. Overall, Verner was at 230.31 to Chan's 227.21, Jeremy Abbott of the United States' 217.21 and Contesti's 207.30.
Chan was happy for Verner.
"I'm glad that Tomas got that program out and had a great long performance," he said. "I'm glad he got his chance, and he took it."
Skating last, Chan came out and missed the quadruple — a jump he's added to the repertoire in both the short and long programs this summer — and that seemed to set him on course for a difficult day.
He fell on his second axel, a triple, fell in the triple Lutz off the combination with a Salchow and then, trying to make up points, forgot he had already done the maximum number of jump combos and tried to add another that he landed but earned no points for.
"I went into [the quad] as I do in practice," Chan said, of the new jump. "I thought about my key words, staying over my legs and being really balanced and remembering where to step.
"There was a little hesitation, that's just a lack of experience. It's only my second time doing [the quad] in competition, in the long program, and it's all a learning experience."
But the key goal of the weekend was met as Chan has qualified for the Grand Prix final in Beijing, from Dec. 9-12.
"I'm always improving and always striving to be the best, and you're not going to be the best right away, it takes steps and these are the steps I'm going to take," he said.
"I can't wait to go to China and see what happens there."