Patrick Chan: "The whole reason I skate is to make people happy"


December 12, 2010
By Reut Golinsky
Photo © Natasha Ponarina

Patrick Chan was one of the skaters who surprised me the most at the Grand Prix event in Moscow, both on and off the ice. He, who has constantly stated that the quad is not that important and that you can win without it, suddenly added it to both of his programs! The quadruple-triple combination he successfully landed in his short program was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Some people think he makes an arrogant impression in interviews, but actually he turned out to be a very nice guy with his feet firmly on the ground. He’s also not afraid to laugh at himself or recognize his own weaknesses.

I'd like to look back and talk about your Olympic memories. What was good and what was bad?
I think the bad at the Olympics was my performance. Of course I was supposed to medal, hopefully, but I didn't skate well. I didn't do what I wanted to do, I didn't finish where I wanted to. So I was a little disappointed but I learned a lot from that experience and it's going to help me in the future. If I get to go to Sochi it's going to help me so-so much. So I'm very glad I went. I think it transformed me as a person: going out on the ice I have a lot more confidence and courage. And, I think, also the big reason why I do a quad is because of the Olympics: the motivation it brought me, the experience I got made me decide to do a quad.

The motivation to excel, to be better?
To be better, to improve, to be at the next level. And to become a world champion. You know, I think it's important to do a quad. It's very exciting and I know that people really enjoy doing quads and watching quads. So it's very important for me to do that.

Now that you’ve tried a quad in competition, do you agree that unsuccessful quad attempts can ruin a whole program?
No, I don't think so. Even if your quad fails, you can still win. Even though I fell, I still could have won, but I just didn't concentrate for the rest of the program, I didn't continue to do all my jumps. The quad isn't the whole program; the quad is only one element in the program.

I noticed that when you do a quad you don't need much time for take off. Any special secrets?
No, I am just able to gain a lot of speed very quickly. I think this is about good technique, and I don't need to set up very long. This is how I like to do a quad, I don't want to do too much before, I just like to go and do it right away.

Back to the Olympics: was there something non-skating related that you especially liked?
It was exciting to meet all the other athletes. I got to meet a lot of speed skaters, skiers, a lot of different athletes. The Village was also a very good experience; being able to eat with all different athletes from different countries, that was really cool.

You said earlier "if I get to go to Sochi", you are not sure yet?
No, I don't know, it's so far away. I still have a long time before the next Olympics. So...

One year at a time?
Yeah, exactly.

Don't you have a plan for at least two years?
No, just for one year at a time. It’s because I still have to go to school, I want to study business. And I'm starting to get older, so hopefully I can stay healthy, but you never know what can happen, right?

Do you think that your work or business in the future will somehow be related to skating?
No, probably not. I spend enough time in skating. When I finish skating I want to move on and do business somewhere else, skating is only one part of my life.

What is the worst part in skating for you?
I think the worst is that we have only one chance to win a medal. You only have four minutes to show what you have, and one mistake can change everything. In tennis you can make a mistake, but then you can come back and make up for the mistake. In skating once you make a mistake it's there. It’s a very precise, very technical sport and every minute counts.

A quote from one of your interviews: "I saw that I could one day leave a lasting impression on my sport". What kind of impression would you like to leave and how do you want people to remember you?
I want people to know that I was strong in jumps, that I was able to do quads, but also do a lot of good skating and footwork. I want to be known as a skater with a complete package.

Do you think you already have it? If not what do you need to do to achieve it?
I don't have the whole package yet. I need to work a lot on my technical [side], on my jumps. I need to work on my landings a lot more. And I really want to work on the consistency of my jumps.

Are you usually doing the full run-through during your practice?
Yeah, back home I do both short and long run-throughs every day, four run-throughs.

You have been mentioned as "the most over-scored skater"...
Yeah, yeah, I know about it. That's why I want to work on the consistency of my jumps, so nobody can say that. It happens, people always complain about things. I totally understand their point, because if you make mistakes you shouldn't win. And I'm going to work very hard on improving the consistency of my jumps.

In general, do you care what people and the press say?
Yes, of course. But I try not to follow it too much. I'm someone who always wants to make people happy. And it makes me a little sad to know that people are upset, that they are not happy with my skating, because the whole reason I skate is to make people happy. I want people to look up to me and remember me as a good skater...

You come from a very active family and you have tried many different sports: tennis, golf, even climbing. What is the one sport you still didn't try but would like to?
I want to try hockey.

You never tried it?
No, I mean, I played a little bit, but I want to really play a lot more. Hockey is a big sport in Canada. I started in figure skating because of hockey. So I want to play in a hockey team and maybe try it, I don't know.

When you finish skating, is there any chance you will try hockey seriously?
No, too late. But maybe skiing, I'm a good skier. When I'm done with skating I will ski a lot more, because I like skiing a lot. But not professionally, only for fun.

This weekend in China Patrick Chan claimed gold, winning his first Grand Prix Final title with 259.75 points. During short program his attempt to perform quadruple jump wasn't successful: the landing was sloppy and he wasn't able to add a triple toe loop as planned (the jump was also marked as underrotated), but next day he was the only skater to execute it clean in the free.





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