Chan ready to roll

By RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — Patrick Chan busted out a quad during his free program practice Saturday morning at the Pacific Coliseum.

But don’t get excited.

“There’s zero chance,” the 19-year-old Canadian medal hope in men’s figure skating said. “I did it there. I felt good, but definitely not. It’s not at the level it would have to be.

“I’m not going to take that risk.”

It was, more than anything, an expression of current joy.

At being here. At having the shot to do something special.

At what he experienced the night before.

He spoke with Canadian flagbearer and speed skater Clara Hughes at the Opening Ceremonies Friday. He said a hello to oath-reader and hockey hero Hayley Wickenheiser.

“I gave (NBA all-star and final four torch guy) Steve Nash a big hug,” Chan said. “I don’t think he knew who I was, but who cares?

“I hugged Steve Nash.”

There’s an anvil on every top Canadian men’s figure skater’s back. None of the greats have won Olympic gold.

Chan lugged around enough baggage this year, it’s a wonder he wasn’t permitted just one carry-on for the flight to Vancouver.

Calf injury. Disastrous showing at the Grand Prix stop in Kitchener. Split from coach Don Laws and full-time move to altitude in Colorado, where it’s not “cloudy and depressing” like Toronto.

“It can be a lonely sport,” Chan said. “I’m just with my team right now. They help keep it fun.”

He doesn’t appear weighted down.

He had an adventure leaving B.C. Place after the opening ceremonies.

“The bus we were on didn’t move so we said, ‘Screw it,’ and walked the rest of the way back,” Chan said. “It wasn’t too far. The walk was good. The bus had gone maybe a mile, then stopped.

“It was just a long day. I could see how some athletes wouldn’t want to do it.”

He bounced back with a seamless run-through of his Phantom of the Opera program.

“It wasn’t like Wednesday when I had officials watching, judges watching, (Russian skater and returning defending Olympic champ Evgeni) Plushenko watching,” Chan said. “My body was in rhythm and I can tell in the morning if I’m going to have a good day with my jumps.”

There’s a big group of skaters who can win this thing.

Chan keeps tabs on a couple — Plushenko, Switzerland’s Stephane Lambiel and Frenchman Brian Joubert.

The embattled Russian still isn’t answering questions on account of superstition.

Joubert sniffed at the surroundings.

“The rink is not so impressive,” he said. “I don’t really feel that I’m at the Olympic Games. I feel almost like at a training camp.”

Coming out of retirement, to Chan, is an interesting concept.

“To me, if you’re going to come back, you have to go out with a bang,” he said. “You have to give it your all.”

It has to be a calculated gamble.

That’s always his approach.

Everyone’s done their final tweaks.

Canadian women’s champ Joannie Rochette worked with Shae-Lynn Bourne after nationals. She has a new dress for her short program.

But Chan’s not even hedging bets on music selection these days.

If he hits a home-run on the ice, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez get assists.

“I’m listening to Jay-Z, that song, ‘Empire State of Mind’ (the Big Apple-themed tune with Alicia Keys),” the Toronto native said. “My chiropractor Mark (Lindsay) works for the (New York) Yankees and that’s the song they played in their room.

“I listen to it when I want to think about being a champion and know that’s how the Yankees felt (when they won the World Series again last fall).”

He’s feeling the Bronx.

Now, it’s up to Chan not to bomb on his bigger-than-Broadway stage.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

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