GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) – Patrick Chan is the king of Canada when it comes to national championships with a record 10.
When it comes to chasing men’s Olympic gold, success has been elusive.
That’s a trend, of course, when it comes to his nation. Despite such great figure skaters as Toller Cranston, Brian Orser and Kurt Browning, no Canadian man has reached the top step of the medals podium.
Chan is in his third games go-round, having finished fifth under the tightest of pressure at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, then second as a favorite in Sochi four years ago.
The Pyeongchang Games are his final chance to fill that void. But this is not the Chan who has three world championships on his resume. He is much closer to the end of his stellar career than to his peak.
That showed in Friday’s short program for the team event, when Chan was a charitable third after falling on his opening quad toe loop and then going down on a triple axel. He showed little emotion afterward as he made stiff bows to the crowd, and the only time Chan displayed much fire was in talking up Canada’s chances for the team title.
He did, however, insist he wants to be on the ice for Monday’s free skate – each country can choose who does which portion of the team competition. He wants, or needs, to get every moment out of his last Olympics.
“Yes, of course I want to do the long,” Chan said of the free skate. “I would like to do it, but the team decides. I didn’t get to do it in Sochi, and we have time to rest before (the men’s event).
“That’s where the experience comes in. It didn’t work out on this day, so you stay in pursuit of your goals and look forward.”
For the 27-year-old Chan, the experience is long and accomplished. Except, of course, in chasing Olympic glory. A silver medal is quite the achievement, but Canadians long for that top spot. They also long for Chan, as popular a skater as the country has produced, to be the one to skate off with gold.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason his teammates rallied around him after his disappointing short program. Sure, they want the team crown. Having Chan help deliver that, then go on and beat defending champion Yuzuru Hanyu, American Nathan Chen and two-time world championship winner Javier Fernandez in the individual event would be even better.
“Patrick will regroup himself, we all know that,” pairs skater Meagan Duhamel said. “We’re sure he will do well the rest of the way.”
Chan has embraced the team event, as have his countrymen, several of whom say winning it would be as significant as taking gold in their own disciplines. So he was particularly comforted by how the other Canadians comforted him as he waited for his marks on Friday.
“It sounds cheesy, but having them there, normally if it was just me by myself, I would start analyzing being disappointed in the skate, but they were all so supportive,” Chan said. “No need to apologize to them or anything. I think that’s the greatness of the team event; this isn’t about me, this is about all of us. Each discipline can support each other, even if some of us have mistakes or bad days.”
Chan added he’s better prepared for these games than he was for Sochi, where he lost out to only one man – although Hanyu was the far better skater at the 2014 Games. Since then, Chan pretty much has been the chaser, except in Canadian events.
He’ll need some relentlessness to succeed over the next week. He’s not perturbed.
“I’ve gone to bed every night with a huge smile on my face,” he said. “I hope that continues.”