Chan looks to get past accident in Ontario

Canadian champion loving quad, ambivalent on Axel

Quads have never been a problem for Patrick Chan. It's the triple Axels that give him some trouble.
Quads have never been a problem for Patrick Chan. It's the triple Axels that give him some trouble. (Getty Images)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(10/28/2010) - After winning his second consecutive world silver medal in Turin this year, Patrick Chan bought himself a present and may live to regret it.

Unable to be dissuaded by his mom Karen or his coaches -- "C'mon, I am 19 now" -- the skater took a new mountain bike to the hills in his training town of Colorado Springs. The inevitable nasty fall happened about six weeks ago, right before Skate Canada's high-performance camp.

"When I fell I thought for sure I broke my back," the Canadian champion said. "I wasn't comfortable on the ice for really a week. I had really bad back pain."

Chan didn't go to the hospital, instead pushing through what he called a "wacky week."

"I did it on the Sunday, and I couldn't skate on Monday, then I went to high-performance camp. I put in a good performance there, so it was fine.

"Then, [the pain] came back after a couple of weeks as well. It could be a chronic thing, I don't know, but it came back once. It was a similar pain, but then it went away. We'll find out."

Glancing around at reporters, Chan hastened to add, "Look, I don't have a bad back. I wouldn't even put it in [articles]."

Too late.

The fall -- which Chan calls a "speed bump" -- hasn't hindered Chan's progress with the quad toe loop, landed for the first time in competition at this summer's Liberty event in Aston, Pa.

"I'm planning quads in both programs; I've got the same plan, same elements," he said. "The quad is definitely one of my most consistent jumps. If I do it in practice, its four out of five. In the programs, it's a 90 percent success rate. It's much more consistent than the triple Axel.

"There is just something with the quad toe that clicks with me. That's something with the Axel I'm still looking for. I just have to be involved in the whole [Axel] process. The quad toe, as long as I do my set-up and prepare properly, it's there. Triple Axel is a different story, I can set up comfortably and end up not being successful."

Christy Krall, who trains Chan in Colorado Springs (Toronto-based Lori Nichol, who choreographs Chan's programs, is also a coach) confirmed that the quad comes naturally; the Axel, not so much.

"Toe was always one of his best jumps as a young man, he didn't have a lot of intricate things wrong with the jump," Krall said.

"Credit goes to Patrick for determination and persistence. We have a gentleman, Eddie Shipstad, who works on the harness with Patrick and we kept him very safe so there was never any injury."

When it comes to the Axel, there is a bit more fixing to do.

"Patrick had a lot of interesting bad habits," Krall said. "When you have to break down muscle memory, it just takes time after time after time. Also he takes off on a clean outside edge, he doesn't use a skidded technique. It's like threading a needle it has to go in perfect."

Krall added that Chan, who spent part of last fall injured, has benefited from a training periodization plan, headed up by Dr. Peter Davis and including Andy O'Brien, Chan's strength coach, along with Krall and Nichol.

"We have him regulated to a lot more rest this year, more recovery time, so he feels good," she said. "He's got a great nutrition plan, he knows exactly what he is eating and when he is eating it. He is working very hard off the ice; everything is coordinated."

Phaneuf hopes to build on successful worlds
Cynthia Phaneuf won the Canadian title in 2004 at age 16, before a growth spurt took her career off the fast track for a few seasons. The three-time Canadian silver medalist completed an impressive comeback with a strong fifth-place showing at the 2010 worlds.

This season, she's hoping to do even better.

"I had quite a different summer because my coach, Annie Barabe, gave birth to a very nice girl [Stella], so she wasn't really there that much, and we had trouble with our rink," Phaneuf said. "So it was a very weird summer, but my skating was very good."

Phaneuf, who is performing two new programs choreographed by David Wilson, said she's right on track.

"The jumps are doing very good right now. We just want to put it all together at the same time when it's time to do it. All the jumps are there. I am doing two triple Lutzes in the long program and last year I was doing only one."

More notes from Kingston
Canadian bronze medalist Kevin Reynolds plans two quads -- a Salchow and a toe -- in his short program. "The ISU changed the rules, so I'm hoping to take advantage of it and make a little history," he said . . . Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch are late entries in the pairs, filling in for Canadian champions Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison, out due to his knee injury. "We got the call on Monday," Moore-Towers said. "It's a great opportunity and we feel ready, but we hope Bryce gets better soon."