Patrick Chan admits he went to sleep a little ‘bummed out’ on Friday night, having won a third straight world championship, but not giving fans in London the big free skate he has craved all season. But he woke up Saturday believing he deserved every point he was awarded, and he’s willing to explain that to anyone who says his scores were inflated.
The 22-year-old Toronto native says he didn’t go out and celebrate his latest title but left the grounds at the ISU World Championships Friday night and just went to sleep. But on Saturday afternoon, as he mingled with press, supporters and dignitaries at the Budweiser Gardens, he was able to speak with great perspective about overcoming from a shaky start to this season, his shot at an Olympic gold medal in Sochi, and what changes he might make to his preparation over the next 11 months.
Chan said he plans to remain with head coach Kathy Johnson, with whom he partnered before this season. But he is deciding where he wants to do his Olympic training. He make a sudden move from his usual training base in Colorado before the world championships, and trained for three weeks in Detroit with friends like Canadian ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. It left him feeling re-energized.
“My options are going back to Colorado where I have my house and [American skater] Max Aaron is there, or going back to Detroit,” said Chan. “I have to say I’m leaning towards going back to Detroit.”
Chan said Johnson, who hasn’t always been with Chan full-time this season, would make the move with him if he decides to go.
“She’s the right person for me going into the Olympics. She really gets me, understands me on and off the ice,” said Chan. “Going into the Olympics, she will put some stuff aside and concentrate on being there with me full-time. She’s prepared to make the sacrifice of being away from home and working with me.”
Chan hungers after the Olympic medal that eluded him as a 19-year-old in Vancouver. He’s also very excited about the team figure skating competition, which will be debuting as a new medal event in Sochi, the first event of those Olympics. He said a home Games in Vancouver felt like a Super Bowl, and his second Olympics outside Canada will feel more like a conference championship, with less media hype.
“I wish they had that in Vancouver, and I could have made that Olympics a lot more positive experience for me if I had a chance to win another medal,” said Chan. “I didn’t grasp the 2.5 minutes of my short program there, and I’ll never get that back, and I didn’t get an Olympic medal. Think of how much of a boost that could have been for me to win a team medal there. “
The results of Canada’s skaters so far at these world championships has him inspired.
“Seeing the team here, seeing extremely strong pairs, ice dance, men’s and ladies, I’m so, so pumped for the team event. I may have not been as excited before Kaetlyn [Osmond] came around, but now that I see her, we know have a whole package as a team right on time, so I’m very excited. If we win a gold medal as a team, can you imagine the energy we would create.”
Finally, Chan responded to questions about whether there is such a thing as “Chan-flation”, the notion that as a world champion, his scores are inflated. Does he feel he really deserved to win, despite having fallen twice in Friday’s short program. He suggested some journalists ought to get on the ice and experience how difficult the skills are and how vulnerable one feels performing in front of thousands. But he also understands many don’t truly understand the way points are tallied in figure skating. They may not also be recalling how strong his two quadruple jumps were to start the free skate. At the end of the day, men’s skating is not just about how well a skater lands the jumps.
“If I go back and really study, the amount of times I fell, the mistakes I made in both programs, I don’t think I made more mistakes than Javier [Fernandez] or Denis [Ten] if you combine the short and long program,” said Chan. “People might be looking just at the mistakes I made that day. I admit I didn’t skate my best. I don’t believe there is any kind of inflation. If they have a problem with it, they can complain to the judges not criticize me. I deserved every point I got and I worked hard for it. I overcame a lot of adversity. There’s no such thing as inflation. I gave them the opportunity. I skated third, Dennis could have won it.”
The lasting lesson for Chan this year, he said, was to make decisions about training, coaching and his skating based on what feels best and what makes him happiest. It’s a lesson, he says, that has come from several conversations with Kurt Browning.
“Kurt always tells me to trust my instinct and do what’s best for me. “Like going to Detroit three weeks before coming here -- was that a good choice? Definitely, I wouldn’t have done as well if I hadn’t done that. I need to really think of a place where I’m going to be happy and have the best motivation, best quality of training in the 11 months before the Olympics.”