Canada's Chan aims to burnish legacy

Fresh off his greatest season – where he set three world records en route to his first world title – Patrick Chan's ambition has dramatically shifted from merely winning to dominating the world of figure skating.

Toronto native wants to dominate world of figure skating

Canadian figure skater Patrick Chan believes he can raise the bar even higher than the one he set last season. (Dmitry Lovetsky/Associated Press )

Meet the new Patrick Chan.

This one is significantly different from the reserved teenager who emerged on the national scene five years ago.

Fresh off his greatest season  — where he set three world records en route to his first world title — this confident and determined Chan has visions of dominating the world of figure skating.

"My goal is to compete against myself," said Chan, who makes his season debut Friday night at the Skate Canada International in Mississauga, Ont.

"I try to just beat myself, that's who I have in front of me. That's my source of motivation. Of course, some of the other skaters are going to be working really hard to somewhat be at my level and I don't doubt that there will be. There will definitely be at least the top five men [that] will be pretty close."

The 2011 world champion takes it a step further.

"My hope is — just like [golf great] Tiger Woods and [tennis legend] Roger Federer did — is to bring the bar up."

This is in no way a dig at 2010 world champion Daisuke Takahashi of Japan, fellow countrymen and world silver medallist Takahiko Kozuka, Czech Michal Brezina, or any of the other top contenders to his crown. Chan simply believes he can change his sport.

And who could blame him?

The 20-year-old Toronto skater finally had the breakthrough season many expected sooner. Injury-free for the first time in more than a year, Chan added his much-anticipated quadruple toe loop jump at the Canadian championships last January. The jump, in addition to the entire short-program performance, left analysts and fans astounded. It also created shockwaves felt by his competitors, who certainly took notice as they watched across the ocean.

After winning his fourth national title, Chan set his sights on claiming his first world championship in Moscow.

The outcome was never in doubt.

Delivered world records

The training regimen

Figure skating coach Christy Krall has put together a training regimen for Patrick Chan that has helped turn the Canadian into a world champion.

Here's a look at the schedule Chan keeps from Monday to Friday:

  • Wake up at 9 a.m.
  • Warm up for an hour from 9:30 a.m. -10:30 a.m.
  • Skate at 11 a.m.
  • Home for lunch and nap.
  • Skate at 1:15 p.m. and then 3:05 p.m.
  • An hour of off-ice gym work
  • An hour of modern dance.
  • Dinner.
  • Video games.
  • Evenings include yoga, tutoring and massages.

He delivered three world records, setting the highest marks in the short program (93.02), free skate (187.96) and overall score (280.98) — the latter easily bested Kozuka by 22.57 points. The three scores also earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Record.

The big gap suggests Chan has elevated his skating, both artistically and technically, well above his competition. Always one to take on new challenges, Chan wants to unveil a second quad (Salchow) at the Canadian champions in Moncton, N.B., in January 2012. With the Sochi Olympics still three years away, Chan's loftier plan is to reach a level that a can resonate with fans.

"If I hit [an overall score of] 300 it's almost like I can sort of put the new judging system on the map, and kind of make it easier for the audience to watch skating," he said. "That would be my long-term goal: to bring skating back on the map and make it a bit easier for people to understand the [scoring] system."

Attitude and confidence grew

His attitude and confidence didn't just grow from what happened last season. In fact, the light turned on during a frustrating 2009-10 season, where he struggled through a disappointing Vancouver Olympics. The expectation of a gold medal came at him from everyone, and in hindsight, those beliefs were unfair.

Chan battled injuries, a lack of training, and a mid-season coaching change. By the time Christy Krall took over just prior to the Canadian championships that January, she had little time to prepare Chan for the biggest competition of his life just a month later. While others were stunned at Chan's fifth-place finish, Krall viewed the experience as a necessity.

"[The Vancouver Games] wasn't what he wanted by any means of the imagination," Krall said. "What he dreamt wasn't his reality. But he didn't train to be ready to have a great reality and I don't think he knew it at that point in time. The best thing for him was understand what makes a champion. And had he somehow fluked into a medal, he would never have come back and put his heart and soul into retraining himself, and refocusing and understand what he had to put in himself to make that amazing performance [2011 world championships] happen."

Smarter training

The disappointment of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics only strengthened Chan's resolve. ((Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press))
Indeed, last season's performance didn't magically develop overnight. Krall put Chan on a very specific training regimen — one that combines balance and movement exercises, nutrition, strength and conditioning workouts, along with on-ice programs.

At Krall's insistence, Chan's training is strictly Monday to Friday, freeing up his weekends for some fun and relaxation.

"Christy really showed Patrick how to train smarter and more efficiently," said figure skating analyst Pj Kwong. "It showed Patrick how focused training can translate into success on the ice."

There is a more important aspect that should keep Chan motivated moving towards the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Since he views the goal of reaching the 300 mark as perfect — thus making it virtually unattainable — that drive will override any feelings of boredom during the inevitable lulls of a Grand Prix year.

"The entire off-season, even though I was very busy, I was continuously developing ideas to how I would push or expand my abilities artistically in skating," he said. "Technically there's certain limits. There's only so many jumps you can do so I've almost reached that point.

"I have to look at other sides; improving my spins, improving my footwork, and of course, improving my artistic skating side of the programs … bringing more emotion and passion into skating, as opposed to just doing it as just an activity or because I feel the pressure to do it. It's more like I'm doing it because I really want to do it, and I really have the passion for the music that I'm skating to."

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