Ice Network

Chan deals with heartbreak after sleepless night

Silver-winning Canadian embraces experience, has yet to decide future
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A gracious Patrick Chan gives rival Yuzuru Hanyu a congratulatory hug after Hanyu defeated him for Olympic gold in Sochi. -Getty Images

Perhaps what Patrick Chan needs most after his silver-medal performance at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games is a good night's sleep.

"I had a lot of restless nights here, before the short program, after the short program, imagining the glory of changing history," said Chan in a news conference the morning after his disappointing showing in which he placed second to Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu.

"I couldn't sleep last night, maybe four, five hours, just thinking about those moments," he continued. "But I woke up this morning alive and well. At the end of the day, I have to remember I'm here.'

It won't be easy.

Chan, arguably one of the most talented skaters, having won three world titles and pushed the sport on both the technical and artistic levels, now will have to cope with the aftermath of not living up to the much-built up hype of becoming an Olympic champion.

"It is amazing we are so tough on ourselves for winning a silver," Chan said.

Over the years, Canada has had its share of heartbreak in the men's event. The nation has had seven men who have produced 14 world titles, dating back to Donald Jackson in 1962, but none has captured Olympic gold.

Twice, Brian Orser won silver medals in the Winter Games, in 1984 and 1988, and then Elvis Stojko won two more in 1994 and 1998. Five times, Canadian men have won world titles the year before the Olympics, only to fall short of the ultimate prize.

Now, Chan's name is grouped along with those talented skaters but on a list he would have preferred to be kept off.

"I could definitely feel the pressure," Chan said. "Maybe winning three world championships didn't help."

Orser definitely was torn in his emotions after the men's free skate as he guided Hanyu to the gold medal but saw one of his fellow countrymen spiral into Olympic disappointment. Afterward, Orser gave Chan a hug and said it was more emotional than being with his own skaters.

"I have worked with Brian a few times," Chan said. "We're not extremely close; we're not best friends. When I hugged him, I said, 'It's been quite a journey.' What I really wanted to think about and look at was the great experience I've had with him, Yuzuru and the rivalry and making great sports history. I'm surprised he said that. That was a special moment."

Orser once said that it took him 10 years before he could watch his program from the famous "Battle of the Brians" Olympics in Calgary. Back in 2008, leading up to the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Winter Games, Orser told USA Today, "It took me a long time. I have to be honest. I didn't expect to go through life without being an Olympic champion."

"Like Brian said, it's hard," Chan said. "It's going to be years for me not to think about all those split seconds."

But there are many skaters who fell short of winning the Olympic gold who are still considered to be the gold standard in the sport's history. Michelle Kwan, who won nine U.S. titles and five world championships, was narrowly defeated by Tara Lipinski for the gold medal in 1998 and took a bronze medal in 2002, yet she remains one of the sport's legends.

"Patrick pushed the sport forward," Kathy Johnson, Chan's coach, said. "I hope he will look at the entirety of his career. I think looking back on this, it might have been harder if he had skated the performance of his life and it wasn't enough. Obviously, he made some mistakes here, but I still think Patrick will be remembered as one of the greatest skaters ever."

Chan said he wasn't sure when he would review tape of his routine from Sochi.

"I don't love watching my programs," Chan said. "Even when I have done a great program, I don't tend to watch right away. I wouldn't be able to watch those mistakes cost me the gold.

"I wouldn't have changed a single thing leading up to the program. I might have just tripled some double jumps and stayed on my feet."

Chan, 23, said he was not sure if he will train for one more shot at Olympic gold at the next Winter Games in South Korea in 2018. He placed fifth in his Olympic debut in Vancouver.

Based on his comments Saturday, it appears unlikely that Chan would try to compete for a fourth world title next month in Japan.

"I've won three world championships, and I'm not sure if I can go to another one right now," Chan said. "I'm pretty exhausted.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I'm just looking forward to getting a good night's sleep."