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Figure skating: Chan leading Canada's Team Trophy drive

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Three-times world champion Patrick Chan will be trying to end his rocky pre-Olympic season in style as he leads Canada's drive to win the World Team Trophy for the first time in Tokyo this week.

Chan bagged a third straight men's gold medal at the world figure skating championships four weeks ahead of this six-nation team competition, which opens on Thursday as the grand finale to the 2012-2013 season.

Canada finished runners-up to the United States in the inaugural World Team Trophy in 2009 and third behind hosts Japan and the US last year, both in Tokyo.

The World Team Trophy was launched as a two-yearly event in 2009. But the second edition was postponed by a year because of the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis in Japan.

The event's third edition may give something of a preview to a team competition due to make its Olympic debut in a slightly different format at the Sochi Winter Games 10 months from now.

The World Team Trophy, with $1 million in prize money, brings together selected skaters from the six countries that scored the highest combined points at major senior and junior competitions during the season.

Canada topped the points table, followed by the United States, Japan, Russia, France and China. Each nation can field two entries in both the men's and women's singles and one each in the pairs and ice dance.

Chan, 22, narrowly beat Kazakhstan's unheralded Denis Ten at the worlds in the Canadian city of London after finishing second at the home Grand Prix, winning the Cup of Russia and settling for third at the Grand Prix Final this past season.

He will be joined in Tokyo by Four Continents champion Kevin Reynolds in a team that also includes 17-year-old women's national champion Kaetlyn Osmond as well as world pairs bronze medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.

Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who finished second to American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White at the worlds, are not competing for Canada in Tokyo.

Davis and White are also absent from the US team which includes 2012 Four Continents champion Ashley Wagner, reigning national Champion Max Aaron, three-time national champion Jeremy Abbott and 17-year-old Gracie Gold.

Japan's chance of retaining the title looks slim as they are not entered in the pairs. They could not present a competitive pair two months after Narumi Takahashi broke up with Mervin Tran, a partner in her bronze-medal performance at the 2012 worlds.

But Grand Prix Final men's champion Daisuke Takahashi and two-time former women's world champion Mao Asada, who settled for bronze this year, are raring to do the host nation proud.

Russia are looking for their first team medal, spearheaded by newly crowned world pairs champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov.

They are also boosted by European women's silver and bronze medallists Adelina Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva as well as junior Grand Prix Final champion Maxim Kovtun.

Schedule (All times in GMT)

Thursday, April 11

0615: Ice dance - short dance

0735: Men - short programme

0940: Women - short programme

Friday, April 12

0700: Pairs - short programme

0825: Ice dance - free dance

1000: Men - free skating

Saturday, April 13

0615: Pairs - free skating

0750: Women - free skating

Sunday, April 14

0500: Exhibition Gala

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130410/figure-skating-chan-leading-canadas-team-trophy-drive