Patrick Chan is a three-time world champion, and has two Olympic silver medals. After taking a year-and-a-half hiatus following his heartbreaking silver medal at the Sochi Olympics, he returned with an emphasis on his jumping technique. As Chan now prepares for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, here’s more on the 26-year-old figure skater.
1. He Finished Fifth at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships
Chan finished fifth at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki for the second consecutive year. Although his placement was the same, his approach to this year’s world championship was much different.
“Emotionally it’s very different,” Chan told CTV News after his free skate. “I was very upset last year because I had set myself up for failure. I put a lot a pressure to prove something to other people, as opposed to proving to myself.
“My approach today was to forget everything that’s going on around me, forget how Yuzu (Hanyu) skated or anybody else before me and just put out what I can put out. And I got off the ice with a smile. . . this is a process for next year, leading up to the Olympics. I’m just trying to stay ahead of my game, or my own challenges.”
Some of his biggest challenges have revolved around quadruple jumps. However, worlds marked the first time he’d rotated three quads in a competition without falling.
Skating to “A Journey,” which was written by Canadian men’s skater Eric Radford, he scored 193.04 points in his free skate, finishing with 295.15 points overall.
2. Chan Started Skating Because He Wanted to Play Hockey
Chan started skating at the young age of five, however it wasn’t with the intention to become a world-class figure skater. His parents, Lewis and Karen Chan, who immigrated from Hong Kong to Canada, wanted to introduce their son to Canada’s love for hockey. They set up skating lessons for Chan, who’s interest soon turned from hockey to figure skating.
His coach, Osborne Colson, made him spend 30 minutes a day on basic stroking, edge work, cross-cutting and balance drills.
“I tell people I owe the flow in my knees and the flow I generate from my edges to Mr. Colson,” Chan told The Star. “He knew he had to pull everything apart and start from the ground up on the basics of skating.”
And although Chan did not pursue hockey, he still is a fan of the sport. His favorite player? Sidney Crosby.
“I’ve had experience working with his off-ice trainer, Andy O’Brien,” he told The Athletic. “I’ve worked with him on the ice, as well. He’s watched me skate a few times.
“I remember him asking me about some exercises, or certain types of skating skills that I like to do, just to warm up. Figure skating-specific. I always wondered why he would ask me that, and then a few years later, I saw a move that Sid did in a replay — people were losing their mind over this crazy skating move that he did — but it’s one of the most basic skating skills we do.”
3. Chan Is Multilingual
Chan, who was born in Ottawa, Ontario, is of Han Chinese descent. His Chinese name is Chan Wai-Kuan.
He is fluent in English, French, and Cantonese. His parents wanted him to be multilingual, so at home his father spoke French to him, his mother Cantonese. According to the Globe and Mail, they left it up to Chan to pick up English in his daily life in Canada.
“French is a little easier for me,” Chan told Globe and Mail. “I’m quite direct and to the point. With English, I sometimes add more drama to it.”
Chan graduated from École secondaire Étienne-Brûlé, a French-language school in Toronto in 2009.
After Chan became a national champion, the school created an annual athletic award in his honor. Chan credits the school for much of his success as a student athlete.
“I love that school,” Chan told The Athletic. “It played such an important role in my career. That goes back to the whole fact I wasn’t bullied in high school, just because the school was so supportive of athletes.
“Rose Cossar was also a student at that school. She’s a rhythmic gymnast. I feel like sports and extracurricular activities were promoted at my school.”
4. In September 2016, Chan Announced a Coaching Change
Chan announced a new three-person coaching team in September 2016 following Kathy Johnson’s resignation the month prior. Johnson trained Chan from 2012 to 2016. During the summer of 2013, Chan moved his training base from Colorado to Detroit to continue to work with Johnson.
The three-time World Champion is now training in Canton, Michigan at Arctic Edge Arena under Marina Zoueva, Oleg Epstein, and Johnny Johns.
“I am excited to be working with Marina, Oleg and Johnny,” Chan said in a statement. “They each bring so much to the table and have such a rich history of coaching world and Olympic competitors in all the disciplines.”
Chan’s longtime coach Osborne Colson died in 2006 at the age of 90. Colson trained him from the beginning of Chan’s career until Colson’s death from complications arising from a car accident.
5. Quadruple Jumps Have Been a Challenge For Chan
Chan has voiced concerns about the amount of quadruple jumps skaters are attempting in their free skates. He suggested a limit on quadruple jumps would benefit figure skaters due to injury risk.
“Maybe they [the International Skating Union] need to limit the amount of quads you can do in the long program,” Chan said in April 2017, according to Reuters. “But I don’t think that will happen until somebody actually does get hurt.”
Since his comeback in 2015, Chan has struggled with the sport’s emphasis on quads.
“It gives me a lot of stress and anxiety,” Chan told The Athletic. “The sport of figure skating is changing, by the day. We’ve got guys, now, doing four or five different types of quads. When we were in Sochi, it was two different types. Now, we’re boosted up to three more.
“It’s getting insane. I think it’s becoming a little more clear to me what direction the sport is going. I have a hard time keeping up. The new generation is coming in, and that’s the generation that is doing the five quads. They’re the 16-, 17-year-olds. So I’m a decade older than some of them. It’s evolving. You can’t say it’s either bad or good — it’s both.”
Chan has also expressed that the focus on jumping has taken away from the artistry and grace of the sport.
“It’s like the slam-dunk contest, that’s what it’s becoming,” Chan told the Canadian Press in January 2017. “I will be dead honest, I think with my experience and credibility at this point, I can say already with the men doing three quads, the quality of skating is diminished.”