The technical term for it is “media training.”
It hasn’t taken away his personality, just smoothed out a few of the sharp edges — like the ones that carved up former world champion Brian Joubert, and maybe even rubbed a few judges the wrong way, at the world figure skating championships in Los Angeles last March.
Friday at the Pacific Coliseum, where all the most likely candidates for selection to the Canadian Olympic skating team assembled for a day of program simulation and a horde of interviews, the 18-year-old wunderkind’s ever-so-slightly modified persona handled the most dangerous questions with considerable aplomb — without losing the slightly wacky edge that evokes memories of a young Kurt Browning.
The primary toughie: “How’s the quad coming?”
“It’s always a game-time decision,” said Chan, whose silver medal at L.A. was quadless, but who landed one in the warm-up prior to the Liberty Skate competition in Philadelphia last month. “It’s getting more comfortable. Mentally, I’m not making it into a bigger jump than it is. But again, I make the analogy of Tiger Woods. He carries a driver, but he doesn’t always use it. He won a British Open without ever taking it out of his bag.”
Atta boy, Patrick.
Royal Liverpool, 2006. Tiger surveyed the rock-hard golf course, decided it made no sense to hit driver into fairway bunkers, and played irons off the tee the whole tournament.
“Basically, the same idea,” Chan said. “I have my other triples. And who cares if you do a quad at the beginning of the program if you can’t do the rest of the program?”
Friday’s camp was one of those early-season affairs in which the skaters are only completely into their programs in 15- to 30-second bursts — the opening flourish, a particularly difficult footwork sequence, the buildup to a certain jump. In between, there’s a lot of gliding, consulting with the coach, and dodging other skaters.