Canada's Orser torn by pupil Hanyu's victory

Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:15pm EST
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SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - No one might be better placed to understand how three-time world champion Patrick Chan feels to have the Olympic gold snatched from him than his countryman Brian Orser.

Chan's silver is especially poignant to both men for extending a string of near-misses stretching over three decades since Orser came just shy of giving Canada first men's figure skating Olympic gold in 1984 and in 1988.

But Orser is also the most unlikely shoulder for Chan to find solace on after coaching his rival to an Olympic victory.

"It is so bitter-sweet in so many ways," Orser said of Yuzuru Hanyu's meteoric rise to Olympic gold since he began coaching the Japanese teen less than two years ago.

"I feel bad for Patrick (Chan) of course because I am Canadian and I don't want to be the enemy."

While Chan was fifth at the 2010 Vancouver Games, Orser was second at his first Olympics in Sarajevo in 1984.

He won the short and long programs but lost to American Scott Hamilton due to his poor performance of compulsory figures - a segment of competitive skating since eliminated but from which figure skating draws its name.

Four years later - like Chan at the Sochi Games - Orser was the defending world champion and favorite going into the 1988 Calgary Games. But he lost by a fraction of a point in the so-called "Battle of the Brians" to Brian Boitano.

Orser couldn't help but see echoes of that painful second, watching Chan let slip his chance to jump into first after an error-filled skate by both top men.   Continued...

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu reacts with coach Brian Orser in the "kiss and cry" area during the Figure Skating Men's Free Skating Program at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson