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Olympic Outlook: The Home Team (Patrick Chan)

Patrick Chan and Vaughan Chipeur make up Canada's Olympic team.  Chan is the one I believe will contend for a medal.

He is one of the most beautiful skaters in the world.  If there was a title for artistry he would always be a contender

He is possibly the most vocal defender of NOT doing a quadruple jump

He is the best chance for the home team to medal in men's skating.

Patrick Chan had his major breakthrough a couple of season's ago when he was only turning 17.  He won his first Grand Prix event (Trophee Eric Bompard) and qualified for the 2007 Grand Prix Final, where he finished fifth.  He then upset Jeffrey Buttle to win the Canadian national championships in early 2008.  Chan finished ninth (and impressed) at his first world championships in 2008.

After that, expectations changed.  Chan became a favorite in all of his events.  He also started winning on the basis of his grades of execution and program components - even when he erred numerous times technically.  Many probably remember his telling comments in the Kiss n' Cry at Skate Canada last season after getting extremely high scores despite mistakes - he said he would "deserve it next time."  Chan then went on to win Trophee Eric Bompard despite some errors there as well, and he bombed the Grand Prix Final, coming in fifth. 

Chan was one of the favorites heading into the 2009 world championships in Los Angeles; he had recently won the Four Continents Championship.  He made several incendiary remarks that week - some in response to Frenchman Brian Joubert's lamentations that the top skaters weren't all doing quads, and some in response to Joubert's program components scores (Chan thought Joubert did not have as much artistry as himself or Evan Lysacek).  Chan skated very well but made just enough minor errors in the free skate to open the door for a clean Evan Lysacek to skate on through.

Chan would start the season with an unfortunate muscle tear.  It forced him to miss the Rostelecom Cup, which would have been a chance to see Chan up against Russian medal favorite Evgeny Plushenko.  Chan later made some headlines again by criticizing Plushenko's displays of arrogance at that event. 

Chan's first competition in the 2009 Grand Prix was Skate Canada.  Despite generous scores from the judges, Chan fell several times and only finished sixth.  At this point he was training in Colorado, to work with the Dartfish video technology and build up his stamina (which may have been the culprit behind the Skate Canada performance).  Due to the distance, Chan and his coach, Don Laws, broke up.  This provided another opportunity for some interesting quotes from Patrick Chan - he didn't seem too shaken up to be without Laws and is now working with choreography Lori Nichol and technical coach Christy Krall.

Chan recently won the Canadian Championships.  He had major errors in the short program, putting a hand down and only completing a triple/double, but was able to skate an (imperfect) but clean enough free skate to defend his national title.

I don't know when we've seen Chan put together two perfectly clean performances.  He will not be including a quadruple jump in his Olympic programs, and has been vocal about stating that his artistic components are enough for him.  He is one of the most beautiful skaters in the world.  He has deep edges, difficult footwork and spins, and his programs are seamlessly choreographed.  The home crowd will either unnerve Chan or propel him to better performances.  I think we haven't seen the best Chan can do yet, and this would be the perfect opportunity for him to show us.  We may see a new competitive fire from him at the Olympics.  If he is able to put together the technical program to go with the artistic, he should definitely be near the top of the podium.

Quick Take

The Programs:  They are great.  He is reprising his short program from last season, which worked out so well for him.  And his free skate is Phantom of the Opera.  I personally don't know that I needed to see yet another Phantom program, but Patrick Chan could skate to spoken word version of the phone book and still be absolutely amazing.

Latest Performance:  Chan was lauded for his performance at the Canadian nationals, but I found plenty to be worried about.  He made multiple errors in the short program, and he had some troubles in the free skate as well.  While these skates easily won the Canadian championships, the competition will be much more stacked at the Olympics.

Strengths:  Chan is one of the most beautiful skaters.  When he lands his jumps, he'll get a very high grade of execution because his technique is sublime.  His spins and footwork are the top of what are being performed out there and will bring in high levels.  He has an artistry that cannot be taught.

Weaknesses:  He often has some botched jump landings, and he has particular trouble landing both his triple axels.  Luckily he makes up a lot of ground on his grade of execution and program components points.

It gives me the creeps when:  He comes off as a bit entitled in interviews.  He's still only 19, after all.

I think it's awesome when:  He skates, simple as that.  I cannot say how much I love to watch him skate!

Outlook:  I truly expect Chan to step it up at the Olympics.  I have a feeling he'll feed off the crowd rather than let it get him nervous.  His issue will be whether his artistry can make up for not only the fact that he won't be doing a quad, but also the potential landing issues he'll have.  I have yet to see two perfectly clean programs from this skater, and it would be quite amazing to see him do that at the Olympics.