Patrick Chan finds perspective in year of adventure
3-time world champ returning to competition after a thrill-seeking sabbatical
Falling to earth from 13,000 feet helped Patrick Chan put life in perspective.
"You pull the chute and, oh my gosh, the view is amazing," Chan said. "It just makes you realize how small I am and how small the figure skating world is."
The 24-year-old from Toronto was scheduled to go sky diving again Tuesday in Montreal with fellow Canadian figure skaters Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, Eric Radford, Jeffrey Buttle and Joannie Rochette — who introduced Chan to the extreme sport while in Florida recently.
The three-time world champion confirmed last week he was returning to competition after an adventurous year off that included sky diving, surfing, and back-country skiing. He even has his own ice wine label, set for release in June.
"I think that [the fun times] will help with my return to skating, to just remind myself that 'Hey, look at how great of a life I have, and skating and the place I finish doesn't affect at all who I am and what I can do with it.' "
Chan didn't dare tell coach Kathy Johnson about sky diving until after he was back on safe ground.
"So that I wouldn't deal with her wrath," Chan said, laughing.
He drew parallels between leaping from a plane and stepping on to the ice.
"Very very frightening," Chan said on a conference call. "The anticipation was very very similar."
Chan stepped away from competition after his silver medal performance at last year's Sochi Olympics. He believes, even had he won gold in Sochi, he would've resumed skating.
The seven-time Canadian champion was a keen spectator of the ice dancing competition this past season — Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who won world bronze, are good friends and train at the same arena in Detroit. He admitted he "skimmed through" the men's programs a couple of days after the world championships, fast forwarding to the big jumps.
Chan not impressed
Post-Olympic seasons usually are lacking and Chan wasn't super impressed by what he saw.
"Nothing too special — no offence," he said. "It was a very exciting competition, of course technically everyone did all the quads [quadruple jumps], but we've had two, three seasons of these quads coming back into the men's field, so that's to be expected now.
"At this point, especially myself, I look to a skater who is pushing the boundaries program-wise."
Chan hopes to do just that.
"I want to skate a program that I can get off the ice and say 'I'm proud of what I just did,' " he said. "I hope it's something people will look back in years to come, or coaches can play a program to skaters to say 'This is what it takes to be a champion, and this is what skating is all about.'
"That's what I'm looking to do, that's really my goal, not necessarily winning a medal. I think I'm beyond that in my career."
With that, Chan turned his attention to his afternoon of sky diving.
"The world is very very big and there are many people who are doing many different things," Chan said, on his view from up high. "I want to give the best I can and have that rush, live for that rush of figure skating."
Chan's return is good news for Canadian men's skating. With Chan out, and Olympian Kevin Reynolds struggling with both skate issues, then a hip injury, 16-year-old Nam Nguyen won the national title and went on to finish fifth at the world championships.
Olympic champion ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir also took this past season off, and haven't announced their immediate plans.