SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - He has already endured one sleepless night thinking about the “split second moments that could have changed everything” and now Patrick Chan fears he may be haunted for years by his failure to win gold at the Sochi Olympics.
The 23-year-old figure skater had been the overwhelming favorite to end Canada’s endless search for a male Olympic champion but instead he joined an ever-growing queue of compatriots who ended up with silver - a medal that represents being the ‘best of all the losers’.
Since 1987, Canadian men have won 12 world titles. But just as Brian Orser, Elvis Stojko and Kurt Browning failed to turn that success into Olympic gold, Chan too came up short on the biggest stage.
He joined Orser and Stojko as silver medallists while Browning drew a blank on his Olympic odyssey.
“It’s going to take years for me to go to bed and not think about those split seconds that could have changed everything,” a crestfallen Chan said after his Valentine’s Day heartbreak when he wound up with silver behind Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.
“I couldn’t sleep last night as I was so busy thinking about those moments.
“It may seem ridiculous we’re so tough on ourself for winning a silver medal but you train day in and day out to do that perfect skate and you want it so badly.”
Doing that perfect skate has long been Chan’s goal but while he managed to win three world titles despite producing flawed performances, on Friday that luck finally ran out and he became the latest victim of the so-called ‘Canadian curse’.
He put his hands down following both his quadruple toeloop and triple Axel and also botched the landing on his double Axel.
The Axel jump has long been Chan’s Achilles heel and so it proved again on Friday.
“I could definitely see the pressure growing in the last three years and maybe winning three world championships didn’t necessarily help,” Chan added.
“I’ve had some restless nights because you’re constantly thinking about it, the night before the short program and before the long, hard to sleep you’re imagining the glory of winning gold and changing history also fearing the possibility of not achieving that.
“It’s unfortunate I couldn’t make history but .... I wish everyone could experience what it feels like to be on that ice by yourself.
“It feels lonely and it’s tough. It’s a tough challenge.
“It’s very easy to blast someone or to say they’re a choker or whatever. It’s very easy to do that and I don’t think it’s fair.”
One former skater at the Iceberg Skating Palace could relate to the torment felt by Chan. Ironically for Chan, that man was Hanyu’s coach Orser.
“I absolutely feel for Patrick,” said 1984 and 1988 silver medalist Orser, who had sought out the devastated Chan following Friday’s competition.
“I got more emotional giving Patrick a hug than I did my own skater. I feel bad for him.”
To make sure he does not spend too many sleepless nights, Chan tried to put a positive spin on his Sochi adventure - during which he also won a team silver.
“Two silver medals is as good as a gold medal and not even Yuzuru can say he’s had as much success as me in his career,” he added.
“I’m the only male skater to have ever have left the (same) Olympics with two medals so that’s really special to say I have achieved.
“I think I’ll still be the best skater in the world for some time. I’ve above all pushed the sport in a new direction.”
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar; editing by Keith Weir