For once Patrick Chan is actually looking forward to Grand Prix final

Dec 8, 2010

By Lori Ewing, Canadian Press

It's meant long flights and jet lag at a time in his season when he's already been dragging his heels with fatigue.

But the 19-year-old from Toronto happily boarded a flight halfway around the world to Beijing this week for the event that caps the ISU Grand Prix season.

Since changing his training _ he moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., to train with coach Christy Krall last fall _he's feeling fitter and more rested than he has in a while.

``Now I take the time and take the rest my body needs instead of pushing myself and pushing through the pain and being tired, just keep pushing until you burn out,'' Chan said on a recent conference call from Colorado. ``Going to the last Grand Prix Finals, I left home feeling I didn't really want to go, I went with a really bad mentality. But this year I feel really good, I feel really comfortable, I'm actually really excited.''

The trip to Beijing has extra meaning for Chan as well, because while he's of Chinese descent, he's never been there.

``I've been to all the other countries in Asia, which is ironic because I'm Chinese so I'm really excited to go,'' he said. ``I've been waiting for this for a long time.''

The two-time world silver medallist finished fifth at the Grand Prix final in 2007 and 2008. He didn't qualify for last season's event, sidelined by a calf injury that forced him to withdraw from the Rostelecom Cup (skaters need points from two Grand Prix events to qualify for the final).

He's excited to show off his newly acquired quad jump this week.

While Chan used to get by on his superior spins and footwork, he's become a quad convert since mastering the four-revolution jump this past off-season. He landed his first in competition at Skate Canada in Kingston, Ont., where he won gold, and then reeled off a quad in his second-place finish at the Cup of Russia in Moscow.

``The quad, I have to say, is my favourite jump out of all of them,'' Chan said. ``It's so comfortable for me to do, even when I don't feel so good I can still manage to do it. I'm doing it in my programs every day, and it's a really fun jump for me to do. I'm really excited to go to China and show everyone that I have it in my arsenal.''

His triple Axel remains his nemesis, and requires some channelling of his inner Drew Barrymore.

``We kind of laugh about it and say the triple Axel is like the movie '50 First Dates,' (Barrymore suffers from amnesia and wakes up every morning having forgotten the previous day). ''Every day it's something different that we have to change, a new little thing we have to tweak,`` said Chan, who fell on his triple Axel in Russia.

``It's a tough jump but if we keep grinding at it and as long as we don't give up I think it will become more consistent.''

The three-time Canadian champion faces a strong field in China that includes reigning world champion Daisuke Takahashi and Japanese teammate Nobunari Oda, and Thomas Verner of the Czech Republic, who beat Chan for the gold in Moscow.

``We're all very well-rounded skaters, we all have the capability of doing quads, we all have good skating skills and components, and good spins, so it's a pretty even field,'' Chan said. ``I'm excited to see what the other skaters are doing, and I'm sure they're excited to see what I'm doing.''

Chan is one of seven Canadian skaters who qualified for the final, which begins Thursday.

Vanessa Crone of Toronto and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., who won gold at Skate Canada and silver at Skate America, is Canada's top ice dance duo in the absence of Olympic gold medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Virtue and Moir skipped the Grand Prix season because Virtue is recovering from surgery to both legs.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., who had second- and fourth-place finishes on the Grand Prix circuit this season, will also compete in ice dance.

Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch of Waterloo, Ont., will make their Grand Prix final debut, after winning silver at both Skate Canada and Skate America.

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch were last-minute replacements at Canada Canada for former world bronze medallists Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison. Dube and Davison withdrew from the event just days before the start after Davison underwent season-ending surgery on his knee.