Patrick Chan adds another quadruple jump to his repertoire
MISSISSAUGA, Ontario (AP) Launching a comeback after an 18-month hiatus, Patrick Chan had been frustrated to find figure skating's version of a slam dunk contest.
All about the big jumps, skaters were jam-packing their programs to score major points.
So Chan had no choice but to evolve with it.
The three-time world champion will attempt three quadruple jumps in his long program for the first time at this week's Skate Canada International, in an effort to be more competitive with the world's top skaters.
''I think that will be a good challenge for the other guys for the podium,'' Chan said,
Chan, whose artistry on the ice is considered a world standard, knew that to challenge for an Olympic medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games he needed to crank up the technical difficulty. He added the quad salchow to the two quad toe loops he already had in the free skate.
Chan said training with Nathan Chen, a 17-year-old American who's known for his big jumps, has helped. Chen landed four quads in his long program last season.
''He is the epitome of what skating has become,'' Chan said. ''(My perspective) has somehow switched now, because I see it every day. I see how technically stronger he is than I am. I've learned just to accept it and be amazed by the ability of these kids.
''He's just strolling in and. . . quad Lutz. It's like `Oh my god. Are you kidding me?' I never thought this would be possible. But it also makes me go into my quad salchow thinking, `All right, this is just another jump. I won't make a big deal out of it.' It just normalizes everything.''
Not much has been normal for Chan recently. Coach Kathy Johnson left him in August, and so he moved to Canton, Michigan, to train with Marina Zoueva, the Russian coach who guided Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Olympic ice dance gold and silver.
''To have Patrick in the skating arena, it's like having a Rembrandt in your home. It's a piece of art,'' Zoueva said. ''The ice is my home, and he's like a piece of art, how he skates and how he trains. It's a real privilege.
Zoueva said confidence is the key with Chan, who landed two beautiful quads in practice Thursday morning at the Hershey Centre. He frets about being ''old.''
''Marina has told me many times, `Don't say you're 25, don't say you can't do this. It's ridiculous,''' said Chan.
Zoueva tells him about Zhao Hongbo, who won pairs gold for China at the Vancouver Olympics at age 36. Or George Foreman, who came back from a lengthy retirement to regain the world heavyweight boxing title at age 45.
''He needs just to believe he can do it,'' Zoueva said. ''Because he really can do anything.''
Skate Canada is a good early test for Chan. He'll be pushed by Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, the Olympic gold medalist in Sochi.
The event also marks the first major competition for Virtue and Moir in more than two years. The ice dancers are making a comeback after taking two seasons off.
''In a lot of ways, it's very familiar to us, we've done this a lot of times, and in a lot of ways we're coming at it with a fresh perspective and a new team, and things feel different,'' Virtue said.
The two moved to Montreal to train with Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, and have set their sights on claiming Olympic gold in Pyeongchang.
''The sport's grown, so we know we have to be better than we've ever been,'' Moir said. ''And that's part of the challenge. We can't come back two years later and try and be the same athlete and win. It just doesn't work.''