by Ralph Routon
Patrick Chan and Jeremy Abbott, whose figure skating paths have respectively taken them in and out of Colorado Springs, discovered Tuesday night that new environments don't guarantee anything at the Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, the defending Olympic and world champions were right where they wanted to be after the men's short program in Pacific Coliseum ... at the top. Evgeni Plushenko of Russia, the 2006 gold medalist, edged 2009 world champ Evan Lysacek of the United States and set up a duel Thursday night in the long program.
But that duel won't include Chan, the Canadian national champion who began training in Colorado Springs about 10 weeks ago. Chan stumbled out of a triple axel jump and bobbled during a footwork sequence, finishing seventh and leaving himself only an outside shot at a bronze. He was second behind Lysacek at the 2009 Worlds.
"I don't have an answer for it," Chan said of his mistakes. "I don't know what happened."
Abbott's fate was much worse. The two-time U.S. champion, who left Colorado Springs last spring after 10 years to train in Detroit, repeated his past habit of bombing on the world stage. He landed his opening triple-triple combination, then turned a triple axel into a single and a triple lutz into a double. That took away his energy, and he wound up 15th.
"I felt good. I didn't feel pressure. I was in control. I just didn't have it," Abbott said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that would happen. I'm heartbroken ... extremely angry and frustrated."
The men's top 10 after the short program:
3. Daisuke Takahashi, Japan
4. Nobunari Oda, Japan
5. Stephane Lambiel, Switzerland
6. Johnny Weir, U.S.
8. Takahiko Kozuka, Japan
9. Michal Brezina, Czech Republic
10. Denis Ten, Kazakhstan