Canada’s Patrick Chan is a two-time Olympic silver medalist in figure skating. He competed at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games, and is aiming to compete in PyeongChang.
Figure skating beginnings
Chan was born December 31, 1990 in Ottawa, Canada and grew up in Toronto. He began taking skating lessons at age 6 because he wanted to play hockey. The first time he stepped on the ice, he says he fell down, got back up, and promptly fell again. He estimates that he fell 15 times that first day, but fell in love with figure skating anyway.
He was coached by Osborne Colson from the beginning of his career through Colson’s death at age 90 in July 2006. Colson’s death set off a string of coaching adjustments and changes, seeing Chan move to Toronto, then Colorado Springs, and finally to the Detroit/Canton, Michigan area over the period of a decade.
Major competitions/ medals
Chan competed in front of a home crowd at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, looking to become the first Canadian men’s figure skater to win a gold medal. He ended up finishing fifth, but worked to become the best in the world soon after.
Chan went on a tear through the Grand Prix circuit the following few years, picking up two Grand Prix Final titles and numerous medals on the series. He won back-to-back-to-back world titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Chan seemed poised for Olympic gold in 2014. Chan kicked off his Sochi Olympic experience in the team event, where the Canadian skaters collectively won a silver medal. He skated the short program. In the individual competition, Chan finished second behind Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu. The difference was about 5 points, and Hanyu notched what was then the highest-ever recorded score in the short program.
As Joannie Rochette, Canadian figure skater and 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, phrased it, Chan had gold on a silver platter – but took the platter. She later clarified for her English-speaking Twitter followers that her wordplay was a game in French.
Chan took the next season off from competition, but returned with eyes on the PyeongChang Games in 2018.
He continued to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, but didn’t make the podium either in 2015-16 or 2016-17. He picked up a gold medal at the 2016 Four Continents Championships, but at both the 2016 and 2017 World Championships, he finished fifth. During the 2016-17 season, the free skate music he used (titled “A Journey”) was composed by friend Eric Radford, a Canadian pairs skater.
Chan won a silver medal at the 2007 World Junior Championships, following two years of finishing off the podium in sixth and seventh. He says he didn’t know he could be great until he won his first Canadian national title in 2008.
Chan is the nine-time Canadian national champion, tying the Canadian national record. He has won the title every year since 2008, except 2015, when he took a season off after the Sochi Olympics.
Chan could become the first Canadian male figure skater to win Olympic gold. Others, like Brian Orser (1984, 1988) and Elvis Stojko (1994, 1998) have won back-to-back silvers. Chan could match their feat with another silver in PyeongChang.
“It’s jaw-dropping to see the level of skating and what these young guys are doing. But it’s also nice that I can completely remove myself from all that and think about what I can do and what I can bring to the table… I have my own challenges and they have theirs.” – Patrick Chan
Chan refers to some of the great Canadian male figure skaters that came before him – such as Orser, Stojko, and Kurt Browning – as “mythological gods.” Chan’s hope is that he can have a positive effect on younger skaters, like they did for him.
Chan placed fifth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but won two silver medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics: individually, and also in the newly-introduced team event with the Canadian squad.
Outside the rink
After winning each of his world championship titles, Chan asked his mother – effectively, his manager – if he could buy a car. She said no after 2011 and 2012, but after his third victory, he went out and bought a used 2011 charcoal BMW on his own. He spends time on the weekends working on his car, an escape from the grind of training week in and week out.
Once Chan took control over his skating career (around 2013), he also learned to cook and stuck to mostly a gluten-free diet. He quickly mastered quinoa, wild rice, gluten-free pasta, rib-eye steaks, and chicken.
Chan speaks English and fluent French, and understands Cantonese, as his mother primarily speaks to him in that language. Chan’s mother and father are both immigrants from China, though his father moved to Canada as a young boy and his mother didn’t move until her late 20s. Chan’s father, Lewis, played ping pong and coached a Quebec-based ping pong team.
He enjoys surfing, and says his favorite places to enjoy the waves are Indonesia, Bali, Hawaii, and Costa Rica. He learned how to surf after the Vancouver Olympics when he was training in Florida.