GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Patrick Chan said on Tuesday that a drastic coaching change weeks ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Games had helped him rekindle his appreciation for figure skating to make the most of his third and last Olympics.
Speaking to reporters after his second practice in South Korea, the 27-year-old said his bold decision to return to his native Canada and hire a new coach with only a few months left in his competitive career had already yielded benefits.
“I think it has already helped me,” said Chan, who has said he would retire after Pyeongchang. “It’s a big change mid-season. I think it’s not a very normal way of doing things. But I just had to trust my gut and I needed a change.”
The turning point for Chan came at the Skate Canada grand prix event in October last year, where he finished a disappointing fourth.
“At Skate Canada, at that time I was really uncomfortable and unhappy,” he said. “I was just unhappy about skating. Period. I did not like it.”
After withdrawing from the grand prix event in Japan in November — a move he said was needed to “get organized mentally” — Chan parted ways with Marina Zoueva, with whom he trained in the United States, moved to Vancouver and hired Canadian coach Ravi Walia.
Chan said he wanted to be mentally happy for the end of his career, and moving back home has contributed to that.
“Not many people have done a change – moving places, changing coaches and then having to train and not have as much time as you would like,” Chan said. “I only really had two months of training by that time.”
The new training regime has been helped along by teaming up with different trainers and physiologists to get Chan ready for competition.
“It has ended up being enough time to be trained to be really comfortable and confident,” he said.
A three-time world champion and seasoned Olympian, Chan knows the Olympic drill.
“It feels a little more normal,” he said. “I don’t feel as like, ‘Oh my God, this is the Olympics’. It’s just like another... it’s a job almost. I’m just coming in, doing my plan and I’m focused on my practices every single day.”
Chan, who finished fifth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, clinched silver behind Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu in Sochi in 2014, where he had been favored to win.
Despite taking an additional silver in Sochi for the team competition, Chan sat out the next season before a comeback in 2015-16.
Chan is known for his artistry in an era of ever-increasing quadruple jumps, a trend he has regarded with caution amid concerns about skater safety.
In the 2017 world championships in Helsinki, Chan landed three quadruple jumps in his free program for the first time, but still only finished fourth, with each of the podium finishers, Japanese duo Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno, and China’s Jin Boyang, landing four.
Chan is set to represent Canada in the team event once again, something he said would be “another great moment at the Olympics.”
“We have a great chance, we have a great team,” he said.
“All I can think about is how I can contribute my best. I feel confident because of what I can offer because I’m confident in myself.”
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Christian Radnedge