Patrick Chan's time comes at the Sochi Olympics

GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports Writer Published:

SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- Patrick Chan feels good about arriving early at the Sochi Olympics, especially after solving his bus route issues to the figure skating arena.

The men's gold-medal favorite was late for his first practice at the Iceberg Skating Palace on Saturday, blaming jet lag and his own bad planning.

But as Chan was one of few athletes in town, he was alone on the rink when a subsequent training slot was empty.

"Having the ice to myself was a huge advantage," the three-time world champion said Tuesday.

"In my whole career I haven't had a practice on my own. It comes down to the Olympics. Who would have imagined?" a relaxed and smiling Chan said at a Canadian team news conference.

Getting set into a routine between the athletes' village and the nearby competition venue was a key reason for Chan landing in Russia last week.

"Coming those two, three days earlier than everyone else was a huge advantage," he said. "I can now calmly go through my routine."

Chan was less composed Saturday afternoon at the village gym when told his scheduled practice started in five minutes.

"I didn't plan my time and the bus was much longer than I expected," he said. "The bus runs slow and I didn't know that. You have to wait for them, and they're not there right away."

Unlike early bird Chan, Evgeni Plushenko appears to be preparing away from what is sure to be an intense spotlight when the home star competes in the team event that opens the competition Thursday.

"He is probably going to show up at the last minute because I haven't seen him at all," Chan said of Plushenko, the 2006 Olympic champion who was a controversial selection after being beaten in the Russian nationals.

"Plushenko is the talk of the town. It's exciting, it's drama-filled," said Chan, who placed fifth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics when Plushenko took silver. "I take my hat off to him. That's experience. I would be very distracted having to deal with the controversies and having to compete in my own country."

Chan was also impressed with Plushenko's scheduled workload with two skates in the team event ahead of the individual short program and free skates on Feb. 13-14.

"That's a whole lot of work for a --how old is he? -- 30-year-old or 29-year-old. I really admire his perseverance and determination to get here," said the 23-year-old Chan.

Chan did not reveal his plans for the inaugural team event ahead of a Canada team announcement Wednesday, though said his clear focus is on the individual competition.

Mental preparation has been a priority for Chan since Vancouver, and dealing with what he called the "devil on my shoulder."

"It's a constant battle between positive and negative thoughts," he said. "When I skate my best, is when I really just think about myself."