Chan taking Olympic pressure in stride

Figure skater hoping to win Canada's first gold

By MARGARET SHERIDAN, QMI Agency


Patrick Chan has the weight of Canada's medal expectations on his shoulders heading into the Vancouver Olympics. (Greg Henkenhaf/QMI Agency)

With the Vancouver Olympics looming, Canada’s best male figure skater, Toronto’s Patrick Chan, is spending his time training in Colorado and having a blast doing it.

During a media conference call Thursday, the outgoing skater spent as much time cracking jokes as he did talking about his recovery from a calf injury, his decision not use his quadruple jump and Russian star Evgeni Plushenko.

“My mom’s an awful cook,” the 19-year old said with a laugh when asked if his mom had a secret recipe she’d use leading up to events. “She doesn’t make anything special. We mostly go out to restaurants to eat, so that’s probably her secret recipe.”

But it’s not all fun in the Chan camp leading up to the Olympics. He’s not underestimating the pressure of being one of the athletes Canada is expecting a medal performance from.

“I think Canada has never been so excited for a home Games,” Chan said. “Having the Olympics in my home country really provides me with a lot of energy and motivation, and I think that can only help me.”

Due to a calf injury that occured in October, Chan was forced to skip the Rostelecom Cup in Russia. A less-than-stellar short program at the Canadian championships earlier this month raised questions that maybe the teen wasn’t quite back to 100 per cent.

But instead of looking at the hiccups as a problem, Chan is using it to take his cues on what need improvement heading into Vancouver.

“(It) just shows that I haven’t had enough mileage from missing the Grand Prix,” he admitted when asked about the performance at Skate Canada. “It’s something that had to happen for improvement. Nationals are kind of a warm-up and I feel really good now.”

What it comes down to in Vancouver is this -- it won’t just be the eyes of the figure skating world on Chan, it will be all of Canada, a country who has yet to see one of its male skaters win Olympic gold. And the competition won’t be easy with both the defending Olympic gold and silver medalists, Plushenko and Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland, having come out of retirement for the Games.

“Plushenko and Lambiel are both skaters I look up to and they’ve been around for much longer than I have,” Chan admitted. “I think it will be even more of a better competition now. At the end of the day I can’t really think about what they’re going to do, that’s their job. And my job is to only think about what I have to do; and that’s to do my program.

“I don’t want to be sitting back and just watching them, this time I really want to attack and see how they’re going to react.”

It won’t be easy. But then Canada’s Jeff Buttle went into the Turin Olympics four years ago hoping for the best in a stacked field and came away with a bronze medal. It could be Chan’s turn to bring down the titans.

“Athletes, Olympians, we all strive on moments like this, so I hope to deliver,” he said.

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