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Laws ran, not walked, away from coaching Chan

Coach out of picture days before Canadian nationals

For now, Chan will be coached by Lori Nichol and Christy Krall.
For now, Chan will be coached by Lori Nichol and Christy Krall. (Getty Images)

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By Amy Rosewater, special to icenetwork.com
(01/08/2010) - Just three days before the 2010 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships begin in London, Ontario, and just about a month before the 2010 Olympic Winter Games begin in Vancouver, Don Laws said he will not be coaching world silver medalist Patrick Chan.

According to Laws, who was reached by telephone at his rink, Palm Beach Ice Works, in West Palm Beach, Fla., he contacted Skate Canada yesterday to inform the skating organization that he was no longer working with the Canadian star skater. Chan has been training in Colorado Springs, Colo., recently.

"I will say that he did not run from me,'' Laws said. "I ran from him.''

"I just sent a letter to Skate Canada that I have withdrawn as his coach,'' Laws added. "I can't imagine you want to have a coach who lives 2,000 miles away from you.''

The move is striking because of its timing and because Chan has become one of Canada's biggest stars leading up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. His likeness has been seen throughout Canadian chains of McDonald's and fans there are hoping he could become the first Canadian male skater to claim an Olympic gold medal. Several others have tried but fallen short, including Elvis Stojko, Kurt Browning and Brian Orser.

Chan decided to train in Colorado Springs shortly after competing in HomeSense Skate Canada, where he placed sixth. According to Laws, Chan originally went to Colorado to work with Dartfish video training techniques. Laws did travel to Colorado Springs but said he was there more as "a spectator'' than as a coach.

Chan returned to Florida to perform in a rink holiday show in December and told Laws he wanted to return to Colorado for altitude training. "That was interesting because most of Vancouver is at sea level,'' Laws said.

Laws said he asked Skate Canada to credential choreographer Lori Nichol, who once was coached by Laws, as Chan's coach. According to officials at Skate Canada, Nichol will be credentialed as will American coach Christy Krall, who is based in Colorado Springs. Nichol was with Chan at Skate Canada earlier this season.

"I would like to sincerely thank Mr. Laws for everything he has done over the past few years with me and I wish him nothing but the best at the Palm Beach Ice Works." Chan told Skate Canada in a statement to be released later today. "I respect his decision to move into his role full-time and I know he will build a successful program at the new rink.''

Oddly enough, Chan and Laws first met at a funeral. Both were pallbearers for Osborne Colson, who died in July 2006, at the age of 90. Colson coached both Laws and Chan, and Chan said at the time that it seemed natural to work with Laws. Under Laws's guidance, Chan won two Canadian titles, in 2008 and 2009 and earned the silver medal at the 2009 World Championships.

"He has been a real mentor to me and I know that my former coach Mr. Colson would have greatly appreciated the work that Mr. Laws did,'' Chan also stated.

Chan struggled this season with a leg injury and that forced him to withdraw from the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in October. He returned to competition in November at the Skate Canada.

According to skaters and coaches in Colorado Springs, Chan has been skating at a high level. U.S. skater Ryan Bradley said Chan's presence at the rink has "been awesome'' and called his skating "motivating.''