Figure skating spotlight on Patrick Chan
With Jeffrey Buttle headed to the pro ranks, Toronto's Patrick Chan is suddenly feeling the expectation of an entire nation.
"I just have to take responsibility and be more responsible," Chan told reporters Thursday in Vancouver, site of the ISU Four Continents from Feb. 2-8, 2009.
"I have to be a role model, like he [Buttle] was."
Buttle, the reigning world champion, retired Wednesday from competitive figure skating, leaving Chan as Canada's top medal contender in men's singles just 17 months shy of the Vancouver Olympics.
"He is a huge up-and-coming star for Canada," Buttle said. "We're going to see great things from him, as well as the other guys."
Chan is quick to credit Buttle's influence in helping him to reach this point, as an inspiration and a mentor.
"I don't think I would have been this far without him," Chan said. "He was a great source of motivation."
Chan outskated Buttle in the free program at the nationals in Vancouver on Jan. 19, to become, at 17, the youngest men's senior champion in Canadian history.
Chan later impressed with a ninth-place showing as a rookie at the worlds in Goteburg, Sweden — won by Buttle.
Brian Orser's sixth-place finish in 1981 remains the best result by a Canadian in his debut at the worlds.
Elvis Stojko was ninth in 1990 and Kurt Browning was 15th in 1987.
Like Orser, they went on to win the gold medal at the worlds later in their careers — a good omen for Chan who, with Buttle retired, has one less obstacle on the path to the podium.
"[Beating] Jeff was another goal I had to achieve before moving on, so I think that is one less goal to achieve — in a good way," Chan said.
Chan was the silver medallist at the 2007 world juniors in Oberstdorf, Germany.
With files from the Canadian Press