When he arrives in Spokane next week, defending his national title won't be uppermost on Jeremy Abbott's mind.
"I really would like to, but my goal is to go to the Olympics and peak at the right time," the skater told reporters on a USOC teleconference yesterday.
"I do feel like the under dog. Evan [Lysacek] won  worlds and the Grand Prix Final, but I don't feel like I've got a lot of chasing to do. I feel I'm on par with Evan and Johnny [Weir] and all the other skaters in the U.S. I can recapture the title, but the [main] goal is not to recapture the title, the goal is the Vancouver Olympics."
Not that Abbott plans to concede anything. He said he will include a quadruple toe loop in his free skate, something other top contenders may not attempt.
"My goal [with the quad] this season was to put it in all my competitions so I was very secure in it for nationals, Olympics and Worlds," he explained. "It may not be necessary [in Spokane]; the last two world champions haven't done it [to win worlds], but I feel very strongly I will need it this season.
"It's a solid jump for me. With everything else in my programs I feel it helps put me in the top echelon of skaters. I feel good and I plan to do it at nationals."
The personable Abbott is about as far from a braggart as an elite athlete can get. Still, he exudes quiet confidence heading in to his fourth senior U.S. Championship, comfortable that he can make the U.S. team and test the world's best in Vancouver, including defending Olympic champion Evgeny Plushenko.
"Not only is my artistry up there, I feel the technical aspect of my skating has improved greatly," he said. "In my mind [Plushenko] is another skater I have to contend with. He's not on a pedestal. I just have to go out and do what I can do and hope the judges like what I can offer.
"[The Olympics] have been my dream since I was four or five years old. I'm not going to let this opportunity get away from me."
Abbott's most recent competitive attempts at the four-revolution jump have been a mixed bag. A clean quad helped him win gold at 2009 Skate Canada, but he missed the element at Japan's NHK Trophy and at the Grand Prix Final.
"There is kind of a risk/reward with any jump; unfortunately, with the quad, [the risk] is a bit more because it's factored," he said. "I did it at Skate Canada and it felt great, and I was rewarded for it.
"When [judges] see someone put out a quad, it tends to push up your other scores, because not everyone tries it. Unfortunately if it's downgraded you get zero, and that's tough. But as I say, I feel very confident with it."