Trusty Chan in groove for seventh Canadian titleThree-time world champion still has work to do for Olympics
This is the 100th anniversary of the Canadian figure skating championships, and to celebrate the event, Skate Canada has invited many past champions to Ottawa to attend the competition and mark the occasion. The presence of Canadian skating history is not lost on today's skaters.
"I've encountered so many people," said Eric Radford, who won his third Canadian pairs title with Meagan Duhamel. "It creates the energy and the atmosphere and the mood. It's something special. It's definitely one of the most exciting nationals."
Patrick Chan, 23, won his seventh Canadian men's title, which ties him with Elvis Stojko but leaves him one behind Brian Orser, who has eight, and the late Montgomery Wilson, who had nine. Focused on the upcoming Olympic Winter Games, Chan said he isn't sure whether he'll be trying to exceed those numbers in the years ahead.
"I talked to Kathy [Johnson] (his coach), and we thought about maybe after Olympics I'll be able to compete differently, but really I probably won't," said Chan, the three-time world champion. "Maybe that weight lifted off my shoulders of the Olympic Games will make me enjoy figure skating a bit more, competing a bit more.
"Then again, I'm really competitive," he continued. "Even if I win the Olympics, I'm still going to want to do my best and go gung ho at every competition. So, I don't know. I would love to come back and maybe go for nine; that would be cool.
"Hearing Shae [Lynn Bourne] say on national TV, 'I'm a 10-time national champion,' that blew my mind. So 10 would be a cool number to achieve in the nationals."
Chan won the short and free programs by sizeable margins, but his performances were not his best, particularly in the short program, where he popped both his triple Axel and triple Lutz. He was steadier in the free skate, which he attributed to focusing on the thing that has made him so successful: taking one element at a time.
While Chan's goal is to peak in Sochi, he was very clear that he's incredibly proud to be a seven-time Canadian champion.
"Mistakes like yesterday (in the short program) keep me humble and make me realize how nationals isn't easy and I can't overlook it," he said. "Today was a hard-fought program, and that makes me feel like, 'Yes, I deserve the seventh title, and I can really enjoy it."
Chan took note of the many past champions in attendance and appreciated the energy they brought to the event.
"This celebration has been phenomenal," two-time Canadian ice dance champion Barbara Berezowski said. "They have video montages throughout the event, a history of skating in Canada. It's a flood of memories and good times."
Chan said he felt terrible that his rink mate in Detroit, Elladj Baldé, finished a disappointing fourth and did not qualify for the Olympic team. Joining Chan on the Canadian Olympic team are silver medalist Kevin Reynolds, who delivered a solid free skate after being plagued with boot problems all fall, and bronze medalist Liam Firus. For his part, Chan said he hopes maturity will allow him to embrace the Olympic experience.
"In Vancouver, I was 19 and really just one of the youngsters," Chan said. "Now, I feel I'm one of the experienced ones, I guess, and one of the older ones at the Games. It's very different. I feel like I'll be more outgoing. I'll be able to discuss more with the other athletes, sit at a random table when I get into the cafeteria as opposed to just going and sitting with people I know. Maybe I'll be more outgoing this time.
"That might help me when I skate; to relieve the pressure and just have fun."
He's also more than ready to be a friendly face to his less-experienced Canadian teammates, both in and out of skating.
"I'm more than happy to welcome people to my table," he said.