We may not have seen the last of Patrick Chan on the Olympic-eligible circuit.
But for now, the three-time world champion and double Olympic silver medalist needs a break. During the Stars On Ice tour stop in Toronto, he said he plans to take the coming season off and then perhaps, if he’s healthy and has no injuries, he’ll pick up his skating career again. The 2018 Olympics is not out of the question. He says he can’t make any decisions about the next Winter Olympics until closer to those games In South Korea.
“I’ve done a lot in my career,” Chan said during rehearsals. “I think that missing out for one year in my career is not a big deal.”
He wants to take time to do things he always wanted to do, but never had the time: skiing, playing hockey. He’s even enrolled at the University of Toronto in liberal arts, although he’s always said he’d like to study business. There’s also the option of studying by correspondence while living (or training) in Detroit: he still has an apartment in the U.S. border city.
Chan says he needs a different perspective on his life, for now. The Olympics was exhausting, pressure-filled, although at the same time, he misses being at “the centre of attention.”
“I still feel if I’m healthy and I’m motivated, I would love to win another world championship,” Chan said. He can’t bear to see someone else win it. He takes that to mean that the competitive fires still burn inside.
Even Olympic fires. “Sochi was so special, it reminded me of how great the Games are and how unique they are,” he said. He thought of Daisuke Takahashi, who had to fight injuries during his preparation for Sochi (so he skipped worlds in Japan), and arrived not in the best shape. Chan would rather not have to fight that sort of thing. (Although Takahashi had said earlier last season that this Olympic year would be his last, he’s now saying he will take the next year off, then see. Mao Asada hasn’t really made up her mind either, saying that after the world championships, there was a 50-50 chance that she’d be back.)
Chan is also motivated by attracting people to watch the sport. While in Sochi, Chan heard stories about people gathering around television sets to watch, and it fires him up, especially if they are people who had never watched figure skating before. “I know it’s not necessarily because of me, but I was one of the reasons they watched it, so that’s cool,” he said. “I want to attract people to a sport that I’m passionate about.”
He skipped the world championships in Saitama, Japan, knowing that if he showed up, he’d deliver a poor product. “I knew in my own heart if I tried to go and forced myself to go, I wouldn’t have skated well,” he said. “And why do I want to do that and end the season on that note?” He decided to take time to prepare for Stars on Ice, and avoid stress and injury.
He did an extensive Stars on Ice tour in Japan and loves to perform with the audience so close at his feet: he finds more of an emotional connection to the crowd. “To do that in Japan was such an opportunity,” he said. “I love Japan.” He’s in demand there. But then, Japan seems to appreciate everybody, no matter the country.
And the feedback from Japan? Chan received so many gifts, that he had to buy an extra suitcase to bring them back. “It’s overwhelming,” he said. “It’s crazy. It’s a whole different culture.”
The gifts would depend on the sorts of interviews or social media information he did in Japan, he said. One day, U.S. ice dancer Alex Shibutani sent out an instagram photo of Chan with holes in his socks. So Chan began to get socks as gifts: piles and piles and piles of socks. “Actually I use a lot of them,” he said. Fortunately, some of them worked well as skating socks, something that Chan is very picky about. He also received clothes, stylish shirts, dress shirts, ties.
For now, with the weight of the Olympics off his shoulders, Chan wants to live his life the way he wants, doing things he really wants to do. “If I feel like it, I’ll skate and I’ll compete again,” he said.