Road To The Olympic Games

Figure Skating·Analysis

Patrick Chan finds soul in new long program

Patrick Chan’s new long program, which is set to an original composition by fellow Canadian figure skater Eric Radford, highlights the simple, emotional beauty of the two-time world champion's skating.

Skate set to music by fellow Canadian Radford

Patrick Chan is introducing a new program amid an increasingly competitive men's figure skating landscape. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The sun was shining on this early summer morning as I set off to see what Patrick Chan would be skating to this coming season.

At a time when many people's attention is focused on the upcoming Rio Summer Olympic Games, it seemed strange that I would be driving to a Toronto-area rink with a down jacket in the back seat.

Nevertheless, Chan is a three-time world figure skating champion and two-time Olympian with a pair of Olympic silver medals to his credit. Heading into his second season back after a year-long break, I was interested to find out what his choice would be for a new long program.

I couldn't have been more surprised and delighted with what I saw.

Chan's new long program is set to an original composition by fellow Canadian skater Eric Radford, who is one half of the two-time world champion pairs team with Meagan Duhamel. While on tour in Japan, the story goes, Eric played a couple of pieces for Patrick, who fell in love with them and sent them to coach Kathy Johnson and choreographer David Wilson.

Radford combined the pieces and added layers for transitions and musicality and went back into the studio with musicians for the final recording. The result is rich and dynamic, with a soulful quality.

"This program has virtually choreographed itself," Wilson said. "We wanted to find something that would highlight the simple beauty of [Chan's] skating. We wanted something that would fit like a comfortable glove with his skating style, making the little subtleties speak loudly."

The program and the piece are aptly titled "A Journey."

That couldn't be more fitting given the journey for Chan to get to this point. Coming back to skating has not been easy, with a new generation of men continuously upping the ante. In my view, this program represents another way to compete.

Wilson and Chan both know he can compete with the best of them. Why not take a step back and do what you do best — which is, for me, Chan's ability to elicit an emotional response as I watch him skate.

Chan and Wilson have been working together for five years. Wilson's philosophy is simple: "We're born with everything. It's a matter of connecting with it."

Chan looks totally connected.

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