It has been a whirlwind season thus far for Canada’s Patrick Chan.
Winning his first Skate Canada International title in the city of his birth was exciting enough but claiming his second Trophée Eric Bompard title in Paris was the icing on the cake.
“I was not very pleased with my performance at Skate Canada,” Chan said. “I did not feel like I deserved it but a lot of officials and judges came up to me and said that even though I made some technical mistakes I was the best. They kind of made me feel better.”
Chan led a North American sweep of the Skate Canada podium ahead of America’s silver medalist Ryan Bradley and Evan Lysacek who took the bronze.
Asked for the reaction of his coach Don Laws following his win in Ottawa, Chan laughed. “He was happy. He said, ‘Don’t do that to me again,’ meaning don’t scare him,” Chan said. “He was worried that I would not win because I did not skate my best.”
Chan gives credit to Laws and choreographer Lori Nichol. “Lori and I put in a lot of work and that has paid off,” Chan said. “The judges are seeing better skating skills and artistry from me.”
He admitted to being tentative heading into the competition in Paris. “I was pretty nervous, I went in not expecting to win with Brian (Joubert) there,” Chan said. “I won with luck last year because Brian was not skating.
“I thought to myself, ‘Just do better than you did at Skate Canada. As long as I skate a better program than I did at Skate Canada I will be satisfied.”
Chan won the event with a seven-point plus margin over 2008 Skate America champion, Takahiko Kozuka of Japan. Frenchman Alban Préaubert claimed the bronze medal while Joubert ended up a distant fourth. “I won that event twice in a row but I was doubting myself a bit beforehand,” Chan admitted. “I thought it would be a really interesting competition. I am very proud of myself.”
But beating Joubert does not really count in Chan’s opinion. “I think it is a matter of getting that first program out of the way, which Brian did in Paris,” Chan said. “I am sure he felt the pressure. It was crazy every time he went out to practice or he skated. The French fans just love him. It was so loud!”
Skate Canada High Performance Director Mike Slipchuk said Chan’s strength is in his grade of execution (GOE) scores. “They are very high. Patrick tends to capitalize on a lot of things other skaters don’t,” Slipchuk said. “The packaged program proves that is what you need to win. It is kind of the direction that skaters have to move in.”
Chan flew from Paris directly to Florida where Laws resides. “I wanted to keep training with Don and I am really focused on training when I am here – there are no distractions,” he said.
Attending regular high school in Toronto has been put on the back burner temporarily for the 17-year-old student. Chan is currently taking two online courses in economics and politics for which he will receive credits at the end of the school year.
Chan was the first man to qualify for the 2009 Grand Prix Final. He said he and his coach are not planning on making any adjustments to his programs before the competition in Korea. “I am working on the quad toe and just getting consistency with the jumps and becoming more and more comfortable with the programs,” he said.
“I think Korea will be interesting. Hopefully I will land both of the triple Axels in my long program this time,” he said with humor. “I made a bit of a progression with the second Axel in my two competitions so far. I fell on the second Axel at Skate Canada and in Paris I stayed vertical but fell out of it.”
Chan said his only goal at the final this year is to place higher than his fifth place last season.
Another part of skating Chan truly appreciates are the fans. “I want to thank them because no matter what, my fans are always happy and they always tell me that they really love my skating,” he said. “It really makes me feel good.”
When asked what he does with the gifts thrown onto the ice after his performances, Chan said he tries to keep as many as possible. “Sometimes I run out of suitcase space, and I donate what I cannot carry home to charities,” he said.
Reflecting on his two performances this season, Chan was positive. “I am very happy because it (the results) shows anything can happen. You never know.”
The Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final will be held in Goyang City, Republic of Korea Dec. 10-14.
IFS will be in Korea to cover this exciting competition.