Patrick Chan battled some old demons Saturday night, the negative feelings that had crept into his competitions last season.
But you would never have known it, as the three-time world champion from Toronto landed two huge quad jumps en route to claiming his fourth Skate Canada International title.
"I was nervous, honestly," Chan said. "I started having the (negative) feelings I had last season. . . It was really challenging even before I got on the ice to stay positive, and remember the things that I wanted to repeat that I had in the short program — looking forward to going out there, to look forward to doing the quad, but not looking too far ahead, doing one quad at a time and then moving on."
Chan scored 262.03 points, bringing the Harbour Station crowd — dotted with dozens of Canadian flags — to its feet with his new program debut to Antonio Vivaldi's "Four Seasons."
Yuzuru Hanyu won the silver with 234.8, while Japanese teammate Nobunari Oda claimed the bronze (233.0).
The victory capped an up-and-down day that saw Canadian teammates Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir capture their fifth Skate Canada ice dance title to kick off what will likely be their final season competing. Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won silver.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were third in pairs, a disappointment for the Canadians who were leaders after the short program.
And Kaetlyn Osmond, last year's Skate Canada champion, withdrew from women's singles with a hamstring injury.
Julia Lipnitskaia, a 15-year-old phenom from Russia, won the women's singles title.
The 22-year-old Chan was plagued by negative feelings last season, and it showed in his shaky performances. He managed to pull out his third world victory in March, a couple of weeks after he unexpectedly moved from Colorado Springs to Detroit, saying he hadn't been happy in Colorado.
As the world's most dominant skater for three seasons, he's easily the man to beat in Sochi. He boasts the physical tools to take him to the top of the podium, but says this season is all about the mental game.
"It's not about physically being prepared but mostly being mentally prepared, because I think that's the only thing that held me back (last season)," Chan said. "When I think of being aggressive and being really focused, I get too serious and I start to stress too much, and think of the little things."
Neither Hanyu nor Oda landed clean quads Saturday night, Hanyu falling on his quad Salchow, then putting a hand down on a quad toe loop, and Oda tripling both his quad attempts.