Chan out to show he can

Patrick Chan takes some time to greet some young fans during his practice at the John Labatt Centre...

Patrick Chan takes some time to greet some young fans during his practice at the John Labatt Centre yesterday afternoon. (QMI Agency/Mike Hensen)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

The good news for Canadian figure skating fans is that Patrick Chan and everyone around him are saying the right thing.

He's confident, over his injury and not worried about anything happening around him. Skating well is his focus.

It's what everyone wants to hear from the world silver medalist and Vancouver Olympic medal hopeful.

But first things first. Chan will be looking to defend his Canadian senior men's title in London this week where the Canadian figure skating championships take place at the John Labatt Centre.

Chan practised yesterday in front of more than 4,000 mostly school-aged children at the JLC. He looked fit and confident as several times he skated along the boards slapping hands with some of the youngsters. In turn, they roared their approval at everything he did.

When things begin for real tomorrow night with the men's short program, everyone will get a chance to see if Chan has recovered fully from a calf injury. His physical well being aside, we'll see if he's recovered from a sixth-place finish at Skate Canada International and his parting with coach Don Laws a week ago.

Laws and Chan parted ways after Chan decided to train full-time in Colorado Springs under U.S. technical expert Christy Krall. Chan will keep his choreographer Lori Nichol.

"He's right on track," Nichol said after Chan's practice. "We reassessed everything after Skate Canada, the coaches, trainers and so on, as to what he needed. Everything from physical training to spinning to jumping to the programs to facilitate the jumps, everything was set in motion.

"It's stayed pretty true to course with small tweaking as we find what he needs. He's been training hard and in great spirits. He hasn't just been training hard but he's been training smart.

"That's a big thing. He's been taking more ownership of what he's doing. Simple things like getting enough sleep and eating properly. He's a happy guy, pretty easy-going guy. It's hard for him sometimes . . . 'okay, what are the most important things? I need enough sleep. Stop texting.' "

Even though the Canadian championships will give an opportunity for skaters to qualify for the Olympics, it isn't the only criteria. Skate Canada allows officials to look at other factors in determining Olympic berths.

Nichol commented on the change in coaches for Chan.

"So far he's handled it great. Athletes are all about whatever happens to you, you have to move forward. Whether it's falling on a jump and continuing forward and not living in the past, or what. That's part of the sport and I hope he's using that tool . . . because there's nothing we can do about it."

Chan was pleased with his practice. "My confidence is very good. I'm just excited to compete."

Someone who would understand where Chan is coming from is four-time world and Canadian champion Kurt Browning. He says this has gone past the nationals, calling it the Olympic trials.

"It's not about the title. It's about the trip to Vancouver and anyone who tells you that's not true is lying," Browning said.

"I expect Patrick to step on the ice and do whatever he needs to do to take that next step towards Vancouver, which is very close, but this is still a stepping stone for him. In a very emotion-packed week, there's going to be tears, there's going to be cheers, there's going to be everything at the end of this week. For Patrick, in his particular situation, he needs to do what he needs to do to take care of him."

Browning talked about what Chan has gone through.

"You have an idea of what you'd like your year to be and it never is. His injury was a setback and maybe even a little bit more than he expected. He hasn't changed coaches. His coaching situation has changed. His team is still intact around him. From the moment I heard it, a red flag did not go up for me."

That's really what skating fans want to hear.


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