It wasn’t just that Patrick Chan won a world championship late Friday night that was so impressive, it was how he did it.
The road to a third consecutive world title was not an easy one for Chan, nor was bouncing back from a very up and down season that saw him have a complete makeover of his team after a 2011-12 undefeated season.
But Chan bounced back with a combined score of 267.78 including a world-record short program score of 98.37 to stay on top of the world and tell fans he could be “saving himself for Sochi”.
“I think the program started really well,” said Chan. “Both my quads were the best of the season and really helped me to make a mark. Today proved that skating is about an overall good week and that’s what I had.”
With that Chan became the first three-time world champion since Alexei Yagudin (1998-2000) and the first Canadian to do it since Kurt Browning (Caroline, AB) from 1989-91. His performance along with the fifth place result of Coquitlam, BC native Kevin Reynolds tallied enough points for Canada to earn the maximum three quota spots for the men’s competition at the 2014 Winter Games.
“I was able to trust the people around me and my instinct,” said Chan of his win. “I trusted my decisions and that’s something you need to have going into the Olympics. I must trust that the training I put in will give me the results I want in competition.”
An individual journey
For most people, the season that Chan had leading up to nationals in January would be considered a success, but this is no ordinary person and Chan is no ordinary skater. The Toronto native was unbeatable a year ago winning every single event he entered including the World Championships.
That’s why more than a few eyebrows were raised when he decided to change his entire inner circle of team members last summer. Gone were both coach Christy Krall and longtime choreographer Lori Nichol. The coaching reins were handed to Kathy Johnson. The short program is now choreographed by 2008 world champion Jeffrey Buttle (Barrie, ON), while David Wilson choreographs his long program.
But much of Canada gasped when the season began with a last place finish at the Japan Open in October. That was followed by a silver medal at the Skate Canada International that same month, a gold in November at the Rostelecom Cup and then a bronze at the Grand Prix Final in December before capturing a sixth consecutive national title in the new year. After that victory, Chan decided to withdraw from the Four Continents Cup and change strategies.
He stopped in Calgary and worked with a team to revamp his whole off ice program and look at his nutrition. Stating he hadn’t done so in a while and how his body was naturally changing yearly. He adapted the training regime to his needs beforeyheading back to Toronto to see Jeffrey Buttle and David Wilson to work on his programs and change some of the patterns and the order of the jumps where he considered himself to be struggling.
The next big move came in training location, moving from his usual base in Denver for Detroit, citing the need to stay in the same time zone as Worlds host city London, ON, and being joined by fellow national team members Kaitlin Weaver (Waterloo, ON), Andrew Poje (Waterloo, ON), Elladj Balde (Pierrefonds, QC) and more.
“I thought that the best place for me to change would be somewhere competitive and fun,” said Chan.
Learning from Vancouver
A 19-year-old Chan went to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver with high hopes and finished with a highly respectable fifth place finish. But according to him, the experience he took from those Games would end up being worth so much more and proved to be highly valuable this week in London.
The venue may have been smaller and the crowd not as big this time around, but skating on home soil three years ago played a massive role in Chan’s development and his ability to compete on the highest level in front of his fellow Canadians.
“I think at this point in my career it’s never a disadvantage to skate in Canada,” Chan said before the competition. “I have a lot of experience skating in front of a home crowd thanks to Vancouver and the Olympics…it’s more of a motivation. It’s special.”
Using his new-found confidence and soaking the adulation of the crowd, Chan erupted for a world-record performance in the short program and said the crowd support was a huge boost.
“I love the Canadian fans, they are inspirational and create excitement.”
– George Fadel