Initially, Patrick Chan hoped to be a hockey player, but his mother intervened, knowing his slight 5-foot-5-inch stature would make it tough to make a starting roster. And so, he turned to figure skating lessons. “That sort of kicked off my career,” Chan told Coast Reporter.
That career made him one of the most decorated male figure skaters in Canadian history, earning him two Olympic silver medals, 10 Canadian Figure Skating Championship and three World Figure Skating Championship titles.
But as of last April, he has moved on from competitive figure skating.
“To say you’re retired at 28 is a bit odd,” said Chan, who announced his retirement following his performance at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Peyonchang.
He hasn’t left the skating world completely – instead, he has spent the year taking stock of the opportunities in front of him, and experimenting with new pursuits, including show performances.
“You’re planting seeds,” said Chan of this new phase, which involved relocating to Vancouver from Toronto with his girlfriend.
His focus has been to build community in Vancouver and to pass on his knowledge as a coach and show performer. He said it’s been a positive experience though admitted he’s doubted his decision. “You ask yourself the question of, am I doing the right thing?” To overcome those doubts, Chan said he has surrounded himself with close friends.
Among his new ventures are coaching seminars, such as RBC’s Learn to Skate program. “It’s a lot of fun to see the youthful passion a lot of these kids have,” said Chan of the seminars. “It’s not as easy as I thought and it’s actually more challenging than competing.”
While coaching has been a focus, he’s still in the early stages of competition retirement and career planning. Other pursuits include public speaking and studying for his real estate licence. “It doesn’t stop, in terms of putting myself in different worlds or different career paths and seeing which one kind of flourishes,” he said.
And with high-stakes skating, which includes facing judges on the rink, behind him, he said he looks forward to experimenting with choreography and the rules in show programs, such as the one scheduled for the Sunshine Coast in March.
“It’s a very liberating feeling,” he said of performing without judges. “As a figure skater, that’s kind of your dream scenario.”
You can meet Patrick Chan at a welcoming event at Gibsons Public Market this Friday, March 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are at www.share-there.com.
He will also be performing at the Gibsons Arena on Saturday, March 9. Doors open at 5 p.m.; show starts at 6 p.m., hosted by the Sunshine Coast Skating Club.