Patrick Chan: “Skating
is no brain surgery”
Patrick Chan set new record
scores at the Trophee Bompard in short and free program.
Q: You had two great
performances. When was the last time you had two such strong
Patrick: The closest was
probably Worlds in Moscow. But I stepped out of the Axel in the long,
but other than that it was clean, both programs were clean.
Q: What does it mean to
you to have skated to well and how much confidence will it give to
Patrick: I think it gives me
a lot of confidence. When I skated at Skate Canada, after the long
and the short, I felt pretty comfortable, pretty confident, even
though it wasn’t perfect. At least I didn’t fall and I didn’t
make big, big mistakes. I was already really happy to know that the
thoughts I had, the mental things I wanted to think about, the
dialogue that I had, because this season is really about being
mentally prepared to compete and enjoy competing a bit more. And I
was able to do that at Skate Canada. When I came here, I just did the
same thing. It worked out really well. To have skated that well here
in Paris where it’s not home, it’s tough, it’s challenging. I
was very comfortable with the ice, very comfortable off the ice, very
relaxed and that really helped me. It does give me a lot of
confidence for the Olympics. I feel like I’m on track. I had a plan
and I’m already ahead of schedule in my plan. I can now almost
imagine, almost visualize Sochi, because I know the rink and I know
how it looks like. Before the beginning of the season, before Skate
Canada, I was very nervous, because I was like, oh don’t know…
when I visualize, it feels very uncomfortable. But now, because I
have a competed a couple of times, and I feel better. I can now
visualize something positive, I feel like I can repeat what I did
here, there, visually.
Q: You posted a massive
score, 295.27 points. That’s not far off 300. What do you need to
do to achieve 300 points?
Patrick: There is a little
bit of room for improvement, if you look at the technical sheet.
There is a level three spin, some GOEs could have been higher, but
that’s being very picky, right? I don’t know. That’s not my
job. I’m not going and try to stretch my fingers more and point my
toe more just to get more points. That doesn’t work that way. I’m
just going to stick to the plan and stick to the program. You know
what, this is the first time in a long time that I’ve done a clean
long program. If I can start doing it more consistently, then I think
the judges will start being more comfortable with awarding me more
points, as they see it more and more. The first clean program is
sometimes still a little shaky, like maybe a little bit slow in some
areas. But as I get more comfortable and confident, I can start
pushing more in some areas to get more speed and that could affect
the marks, too.
Q: How cool would that
Patrick: Imagine, hit 300 at
the Olympics, right? That would be perfect. It’s not really my goal
to hit 300, but it would be more of a bonus. If I hit 300, it’s
almost a perfect score. It would be almost tying the 6.0 system. I
think it would be good for the audience and for people who watch
figure skating to understand a bit better, like 100 in the short
program is a perfect score and 200 in the long program is a perfect
score. That would maybe help the sport and help people understand a
little more or grasp the idea.
Q: Why did you decide to
keep you short program from last year and why did you decide to use
again a music you’ve had before for you free skating. Isn’t that
playing it safe a little?
Patrick: The short program,
I just reused it, because first of all I don’t love doing two new
programs every year. It takes a lot of energy and takes a lot of time
away from training, and that was the priority for me this summer –
to be able to get to Detroit early, don’t do shows, don’t do any
sponsor events, just get there so I can repeat the program over and
over. If I can cut it down for one program, that’s great, that’s
one program less to work on and stress over. I always can fall back
on the short program and know that I’ve had successful skates with
the short program. So it’s easier to repeat it like that. And now
I’ve been finally able to do it with the long, it will be easier as
I go on. The long program, I chose Vivaldi, not because, I wouldn’t
say, to play it safe. You could say that last year, La Boheme was a
bit of an experimental program. Everyone has that, between the
Olympics, you always try to expand, try different music. You start
learning what music you like and don’t like, and Vivaldi was a
piece that I wanted to go back to that I knew from the minute I
stopped skating it 2008 that I wanted to do again. Not in Vancouver,
because I knew this was too short of a time, but for the Olympics
after for sure, I knew like five years ago. When that happens, you
just trust your instinct you just go with it. I kind of knew, of
course that I would improve and I would start skating and moving and
a lot better as I get older. So I was very curious to see how the
program looks differently later on.
Q: I also heard that the
long program is a kind of tribute to Mr. Colson, your long-time
Patrick: I think I said it
earlier in the season it’s a tribute, but it is not a tribute.
Meagan (Duhamel) and Eric’s (Radford) short program is a tribute to
their coach. For my program I wasn’t thinking about Mr. Colson the
whole time. It’s not really that. David Wilson choreographed it and
I worked with him. I took part in the choreography. The important
part is that we both took from Mr. Colson in our lives. When David
was younger, in his teen years, he took from Mr. Colson. I took from
Mr. Colson when I was young, too. We would share a lot of stories
together, when we were choreographing we talked about memories, bad
and good memories with him. One day he (Wilson) just asked me, what’s
something that he (Colson) made you do and you remember doing, like a
choreographic step. Something that you hated, but now you feel more
comfortable doing it. And there were some steps and I would do it and
he said, oh, perfect and we would integrate it into the program. It’s
just acknowledging his role in my career. This is a big season, an
important season. Why not go back to you roots and go back what
worked and what made me successful.
Q: You’ve been through
an Olympic season before, but back then you were still kind of the
new kid on the block. Now you are a three-time World Champion. How
different is it this time around for you?
Patrick: Very different.
Three World Championships gives you a lot of experience, especially
when you win three. Defending a World title two times is hard. That
is where you gained the most experience. This is not like trying to
be cocky, I’m just saying - I don’t know how it feels to be not
on the top. I’m so used to being almost a perfectionist and always
criticizing and getting used to not being happy with the results I’ve
gotten. It’s not like after I won the first, the second and the
third (World title) I’m thinking, now I can be Olympic Champion,
it’s just going to happen. No. Each World Championship was a real
hard challenge and it wasn’t easy. Like last year wasn’t an easy
World Championship to win. Every summer I would go back, especially
last summer was the most productive. Kathy (Johnson, coach) and I
talked about what I do need to do to absolutely to make the programs
more consistent. It wasn’t training, first changing rinks, changing
to Detroit, being in a better environment that helped automatically,
and then really talking out loud about how I felt before
competitions. I would have a lot of negative thoughts, like, oh my
God, what if I miss the first quad, how I’m going to do the second
and if I miss second quad, oh my God, imagine, how horrible that
would be. There were just perpetual negative thoughts, a
self-fulfilling prophecy, exactly. I train for that I can create
something like a positive self-fulfilling prophecy, so I can
constantly tell myself to remember all the days I’ve trained the
programs over and over. When I did the long in Paris, I took my first
position and I was like, picture yourself in my rink in Detroit,
doing the programs every day, same time, same minute, not exactly,
but same session always, and remember what I was thinking, and that
was just one thing at a time, one quad at a time.
Q: Obviously, there are a
lot of expectations from the fans, the federation and yourself. How
do you deal with that?
Patrick: Honestly, the best
way to deal with it, is to be selfish. I told this to myself all the
time, like I say, especially in very pressured moments, when I want
to do well, and people want me to do well, I just say, okay, thank
you, but I don’t care. I’m not going to ever see… if I lose, if
I don’t win the Olympics or if I don’t win the first medal for
Canada, at least I still have my friends and people will still love
me. My parents will still love me, my friends will still be me
friends. Nothing is the end of the world. Kathy always says, skating
isn’t a brain surgery, like you not trying to save lives here. It’s
just you’re doing it for fun. That’s why I learned to when I go
into the quads now, I try to be more aggressive and not passive, and
it’s always good to be more aggressive on the quad, because you
need more speed and power. That helps me being more aggressive and
not think careful and not to be slow and careful and hesitant. When I
think about the expectation of Canada and the federation, I really
don’t care, because that’s the best way. I appreciate all the
support, but at the same time on the ice by myself. No one else is
there. They’re sitting in the chair, like enjoying themselves and
I’m the one on the ice. I have to be selfish and think like I don’t
care what people think whether I win or lose. I gave it my best and
I’m going to train as hard as I can and see what happens, just let
the rest unfold.
Q: How do you manage that
everybody is constantly talking about the Olympic Games?
Patrick: I was lucky to
experience the Olympic build thanks to the Vancouver Olympics.
Honestly there’s not going to be anything that’s going to match
that amount of energy and excitement, because being Canadian, the
Vancouver Olympic was massive. For me, I hear Sochi all the time, and
there is a lot of expectation of course, and in order for me to
prepare for that, every day when I’m on on practice, especially
days that I don’t feel great, I feel tired, because it’s the end
of the week or I’m having a hard time training the programs and
getting motivated, I tell myself that these are the moments that
really are going to make an impact when I get to the Sochi Olympics.
You’re just kind of building the layers and kind of resistance to
situations that could be distracting or that could affect the way I
skate and so on. Every day when I train and especially tough days, I
just a little hint of, okay this is in preparation for the Games of
Q: How do you feel on
Evgeni Plushenko’s comeback?
Patrick: It will be great if
Evgeni can be there. It’s kind of hard to predict what he is going
to do, honestly, because he hasn’t been to any of the competitions.
The sport has changed a lot from when he came back in Vancouver for
the Olympics. So for him, it’s going to be very, very challenging
to just come back for Sochi. It’s a very different men’s field
from what he saw, what he skated with four years ago. So I’m just
going to bring my A game and we are all going to bring our A game.
I’ll tip my hat off to him if he can achieve his goal to get to
Sochi healthy and do all the quads that he used to do. But you know,
we’ve all been on the Grand Prix circuit, we’ve had experience,
we’ve done many, many programs not only in training but in
competition. He has spent a lot of time rehab and injured and so it’s
going to be tough for him. But it will be very amazing to see him.
He’s always been the talk of the town and it’s a game in Sochi
and I know that they want success. I think it will bring even more
excitement to the Games if he can make it. That would be great for
all of us.
Q: Can you describe your
team besides Kathy Johnson and David Wilson?
Patrick: Jeff (Buttle) did
my short program, so Jeff is also a big part of it. Honestly my team
is very simple, very clean cut. David and Jeff they are my
choreographers and Kathy is my technical coach and artistic coach.
I’m so glad that I’m skating well for myself and Kathy as well,
because there was for sure a lot of doubts from outside people that
thought that I’d need a technical coach. People may even say that
it was her fault that I wasn’t skating consistently last year. I
was glad that finally I kind of silenced the critics. I’ve always
believed in her (Kathy Johnson) and so I’m glad it’s paying off
Q: You have been to Sochi
last year for the Grand Prix Final. What memories do you have of
Patrick: A lot of
construction, that’s what I remember. The rink is amazing. I
really, really liked the rink. It’s an Olympic rink. You can feel
that there is going to be a lot of energy. It’s really well laid
out. I remember that. That’s one of the things that I know when we
go there, the gym will be there, equipment will be there, space will
be there for us to warm up. The change rooms are perfectly located
after the press conference areas. It’s very organized already. The
infrastructure is so well designed. That helps just to know where I
go. The rink is ready. The hotel we were staying at, the sanatorium,
that was an interesting experience, very Soviet style. The palm trees
were interesting. It was cold, though. The ocean was beautiful. It
was really, really nice. It’s going to be fun. I hear a lot of
doubts and negative things about Russia and how people think it
shouldn’t be there. I don’t care, I’m happy and I know that
Russia will pull it off and build everything on time. It’s going to
be a really beautiful place with palm trees and it will be great.
Q: What will happen after
the Olympic Games to you?
Patrick: It’s funny. I
hear everyone is announcing their retirement, like this is their last
Grand Prix, like Jeremy (Abbott), like Nathalie (Pechalat) and Fabian
(Bourzat). This is it! I think, man, that’s heavy to say it so
early. I’m still young, there’s still a lot of things that I can
do. I’ll probably take next year of. I’m going to try to go to
Worlds, Kathy wants me to go to Worlds. But I definitely want to keep
skating. Skating will be a part of my life after the Olympics. It’s
not like I’m going to school or something. I love performing, I
love doing shows, I love being able to able to skate to lyrics.
Lyrics will be possible in competition, too, so maybe that would be
an incentive to come back.
Q: Tell us something that
maybe not so many people know about you.
Patrick: I absolutely love
cars. Cars is my thing. My dream would be to be a race car driver if
I could in my life. I go to the autobahn and drive really fast. I
like German cars, I have a German car, a BMW.