GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Canadian figure skater Patrick Chan has an impressive medal collection but until Monday, it was missing its centerpiece: Olympic gold.
The three-time world champion won two silver medals at the 2014 Sochi Games, one in the men’s singles and the other in the team event and competing at his third and final Olympics in Pyeongchang, Chan said he was relieved to finally have a gold.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my team mates,” Chan told reporters.
The 27-year-old struggled with his jumps in the team event’s short program but made up for it by landing two quads at the start of his free skate on Monday.
“After the short program, normally I would be pretty upset and down on the performance,” he said. “Everybody was just embracing me and making me feel so much better.
“I believe in energy and they really gave me all the positive energy and wiped it clean so that when I came today I had a clean slate.”
Although Chan was the favorite to win gold in Sochi, he faltered on his triple Axel to pave the way for Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu to claim the Olympic title.
That profoundly rattled Chan, who took a lengthy break from competition after the Games, as well as the Canadian figure skating community.
Olympic figure skater Joannie Rochette wrote on Twitter at the time: “He had gold on a silver platter. He took the platter.”
To make the most of his final Games and the last months of his competitive career, Chan made a bold coaching change just weeks ahead of Pyeongchang, a move he said has helped him rekindle his passion for figure skating.
After finishing a disappointing fourth at the Skate Canada grand prix event last year, Chan — who has said he would retire after Pyeongchang — realized he needed a change.
He withdrew from a grand prix event in Japan, parted ways with coach Marina Zoueva, with whom he trained in the United States, relocated to Canada and hired Ravi Walia as his new coach.
Walia told Reuters last week that Chan’s return to Canada had helped him fall in love with skating again.
His team mates rallied behind him after a shaky short program.
They now have great expectations for his individual event, where he will face Hanyu, American quad specialist Nathan Chen, six-time European champion Javier Fernandez, among other top skaters.
“I felt he was going to do it today,” ice dancer Scott Moir told a news conference.
“I knew he was pissed off from two days ago (over his short program). I know the competitor that Patrick is. I can’t wait to see what he does in his individual event.”
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, additional reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly