Canadian Chan on a Gold Medal Streak

Articles, Articles by Barry Mittan

Patrick Chan

Patrick Chan is on a gold medal streak at Nationals in Canada. In the last three seasons, he has stood at the top of the podium each year in a different division. Chan won the pre-novice title in 2003, the novice crown in 2004, and the junior championship in 2005. The personable youngster, who only turned 14 on December 31, has not competed at any Junior Grand Prix events but finished fifth at the North American Challenge Skate (NACS) in Waterloo, Ontario in 2004 and third at the NACS in Thornhill, Ontario in 2003.

Chan finished seventh at his first major international, the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Kitchener, Ontario in March. Although he was the youngest skater at the event, Chan skated like a veteran. He was second in the qualifying round but unfortunately his score didn’t carry over into the short, where he placed 11th. He recovered to finish sixth in the long. Chan’s free skating program included triple lutz-double toe, triple toe-triple toe, double axel-double toe-double loop, a double axel and triple lutz, loop, flip, and salchow.

He began skating when he was five. “I wanted to play hockey but my mom wanted me to try figure skating first,” he said. “She thought it would be easier if I had good technique first. I’m hoping to play some hockey this summer. I actually tried snow skiing first.” The triple salchow is Chan’s favorite jump, which he first landed when he was ten. He’s landed a triple axel, but not consistently, and plans to work on the jump more during the summer. “I want to have a consistent triple axel and be able to attempt a quad for Nationals,” he added.

Chan made adjustments to both programs after his first experience with the new judging system at Canadians. “We switched some jumps around and tried to raise the levels with some more turns in the footwork and some new positions on my spins,” he said. “I like the new system because you get points for everything you do. I just have to try not to fall any.”

Canadian Hall of Fame coach Osborne Colson, 89, the 1936 and 1937 Canadian champion, trains Chan at the Granite Club in Toronto. “He’s always been my coach except for my Learn to Skate class,” Chan said. He works on the ice for two to three hours a day, seven days a week before competitions. If there are no events, he only trains six days a week, but in the summer he spends up to five hours a day, including off ice training. Chan has had ballet classes since he started skating, does physical training with a trainer twice a week and does some Pilates. During the summer, he rollerblades and cycles.

Colson also choreographs Chan’s programs and usually picks the music. “He chose the music for the short and his friend Cherly found my music for the long,” Chan said. “We used the same long program for all of my wins, but I’ll have a new long for next season. I want to do the same style in the long, but I’m still trying to decide whether I like the modern or classical mode. The short program was new this year so we’ll keep that.”

For the 2004-05 season, Chan used “La Represion” by Lazlo Schifrin and “Feline” by van Djiken for the short. His long program was to “Burn It All”, “You Go, We Go”, and “Fahrenheit 451″ from the “Backdraft” soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Jay Rifkin. Chan had to make up a quick exhibition program for the Junior Worlds gala, skating to “Hot Chocolate”. Off ice, he usually listens to rock, especially Nirvana and Green Day. He plays the piano and has been trying to convince his parents to let him have guitar lessons.

For fun, he usually watches movies with friends with Lord of the Rings being his favorite. Chan also likes playing basketball, tennis, and golf with friends. He plays video games and has a few stuffed toys from competitions, but doesn’t really collect anything special. “Sometimes I’ll read if it’s a really good book,” he added. Chan hasn’t traveled much but wants to go to the Bahamas and somewhere in Europe.

Chan is in ninth grade in school, where his best subjects are math and science. “I plan to study space science in university,” he said. “I don’t plan to be a skating coach, but I’d like to do Stars on Ice and some other shows.” But that won’t be for several more years. For now, he’s only looking a year ahead. Next season, Chan said, “I’ll skate seniors at Nationals, but stay in juniors internationally until I feel I’m ready to move up. I hope to make the national team again next year and try to get some Grand Prix assignments and skate well there.”

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