When news came after Worlds that Patrick Chan would no longer be training with coach Christy Krall, there were many who were baffled. After all, Krall was the one who guided him to a reliable quad toe and two World titles.
The new season came, and Chan opened with a disaster at the Japan Open, falling four times to finish well behind the other five competitors. And while other athletes would push the panic button, Chan refocused and made steady improvements. A silver at Skate Canada behind Javier Fernandez wasn’t what he wanted, but it was still much improved from his Japan Open effort. Then, it was at Rostelecom Cup where Chan really kicked it into high gear – two beautiful quads to start and four triples overall.
Jumps aside, what makes this free skate special is the improvement of the overall package that his presents from last season. When Chan first arrived on the scene a few years ago, the effortlessness of his glide and the purity of his skating made everyone turn their heads. But after a few seasons, he seemed to settle in a comfort zone of programs. For me, his Phantom free skate wasn’t much different than his Rachmaninoff free skate, which wasn’t much different than his Four Seasons free skate.
La Boheme marks a departure in emotion for Chan. He has found a way to challenge himself artistically, giving the audience great skating and great expression. He knows that the best in the world have closed the gap on him, and the Sochi gold won’t come with complacency.