It is the land of his heritage and Patrick Chan did his best to leave a lasting impression. Call it one of the many motivations the 20-year-old Canadian champion carried with him as he headed to the Grand Prix Final in China last December.
After recording fifth-place finishes in his two previous trips to the final (2007-08), Chan saw the Beijing competition as a chance to prove himself. When the results were tallied, he stood on the top step of the podium for the first time.
Chan took a major stride toward conquering the world by capturing gold in Beijing, with the location of the breakthrough finish no small matter to him.
“My family is of Chinese heritage so it was important for me to do well in China,” Chan told IFS after returning to his training base in Colorado Springs. “I went into that competition wanting to do well, not just hoping I could. My goal was to do the quad in both programs and to skate two good programs at this competition. I really want to become known in China, so I was happy to do so well.
“I was also thinking that I wanted the competition to end so I could go on a holiday,” he added with a laugh.
The result stamps Chan as a favorite at the World Championships in March, not that you’ll catch him thinking that way. “This isn’t going to guarantee that I do well at Worlds, but I can definitely guarantee it will help me a lot. It was a good practice run,” he said.
“It’s going to give me confidence. I’m going to take what worked in China to Tokyo and hopefully repeat the result.”
While Chan admits the addition of the quad to his arsenal will make him a formidable foe in Japan, he is taking nothing for granted.
“Knowing that I can do two clean programs and thinking that I’d be pretty hard to beat probably isn’t the best for me,” he said. “So I try to just focus on what I have to do in my programs — the jumps, footwork and spins — and then just enjoy it. If I do two good programs I will be hard to beat.”
Heading into nationals in January, Chan revealed he was planning to add a second quad to his free program, substituting it for a triple Axel. He’s simply more comfortable with the four-revolution jump.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s kind of like a superpower,” he said. “It’s a challenging jump but if you land it, it’s a big payoff and it’s exhilarating. The points are great but I just love to do it because when you land it the crowd goes crazy … it’s a really great feeling.”
Make no mistake, it will be gold or bust for Chan in Tokyo. “This is my fourth time going to Worlds,” the two-time silver medalist said. “Standing on the sidelines and watching someone take first place in front of you is hard, so I really want to win. That’s my goal this year and that’s why I put the quad in both programs.”
Should Chan walk away with the gold medal at the World Championships, he will look back on perhaps one of his most disappointing results — a fifth-place finish at the 2010 Olympics — as the launching pad for it all.
“I wouldn’t be doing so well this season if it wasn’t for Vancouver,” he said. “Who knows, maybe if I had come home with a medal, I wouldn’t be having such a good season now. I don’t think I would change it, even for a gold medal, because I’ve grown so much.”
Originally published in April 2011