Ice Network

With Zoueva by his side, Chan ready for challenge

Coach in Finland with three-time world champ, U.S. bronze medalist Chen
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Marina Zoueva with Patrick Chan (left) and Nathan Chen. -Jyrki Pirkkalainen

Canada's Patrick Chan is starting his season at the Finlandia Trophy on Saturday, and he brings with him a new coach and a new mindset.

The three-time world champion recently announced he is now training with Marina Zoueva's group in Canton, Michigan. The Canadian says he's excited about the new environment, the coaching team and the fact that there are other top skaters training in the same rink as him.

"It's good to have to challenge yourself and not have everything continue the same way as before," Chan told the media after his practice session Friday morning.

Zoueva is excited about her new student as well.

"I just enjoy watching him skate daily -- it's beautiful," said Zoueva, who has made her mark in the sport mainly as an ice dance coach and choreographer. "It's amazing how he puts his soul into skating at every practice, every moment."

Zoueva had already worked with Chan a bit a year ago, but since this summer, they've been preparing for the season together.

"(Last year) he sometimes came to our group to skate and just to talk with us. This is our history," Zoueva explained. "But this time, he was with us all summer, and now he starts his competitive season."

With the world championships being held in Helsinki next March, Chan said it was an easy decision to do the Finlandia Trophy.

"To travel and get used to the time difference, it's a good experience for both the body and the mind," Chan said. "I used to start my season at Skate Canada at the end of October, where the pressure and expecations have been hard. By doing Finlandia Trophy, I want to be more prepared when the Grand Prix season begins."

Too many quads to watch

When Chan returned to competition last year after taking a season off, it took him by surprise how different the sport had become.

"Last season was crazy. The other guys were doing up to four quads," Chan said. "In the competitions, I focused too much on what the others were doing. Now it only counts what I do myself. I'm not looking at others anymore."

Chan is working on the quad salchow, but the jump is not yet in his programs.

"In practice, I can maybe land three out of five attempts," Chan said. "My goal is to be landing four out of five by Skate Canada and be able to put it in the program."

Speaking of others doing four quads, Chan has been training on the same ice with one such skater. Nathan Chen, who back in January became the first American to land four quads in the free skate at a U.S. championships, is accompanied in Finland by Zoueva as well.

"We work together at the moment because I made his (short) program," Zoueva explained. "His coach, Rafael Arutunian, made him the best jumper in the world right now, technically. He has four different quad jumps in the (free) program. With him, we work a lot with skating skills, the emotional level of performance, spins and consistency in the programs."

Zoueva said she enjoys working with Chen.

"He is young and has potential," Zoueva said. "When I started to work with him, I just fell in love with his talent -- talent of movement, talent of skating, just general talent, how he respects the coaches' word."

Chen sustained a hip injury during the exhibition at the U.S. championships in January and had to have surgery, which ended his season. He resumed on-ice training in the summer and seems to be back to 100 percent.

"Before we left here, we had a performance in Canton, and he did four different quads in the program, and the rest was clean also," Zoueva said. "Now it's about competition. It would be nice if this young talent pushes figure skating forward technically."

The other top contenders at Finlandia come from Russia and Israel. Russia sent its top three men from last year's Russian championships: Maxim Kovtun, Mikhail Kolyada and Alexander Petrov.

Israel is presenting an even more decorated team, with European silver medalist Alexei Bychenko and world junior champion Daniel Samohin competing in Espoo.