Thailand. Singapore. South Korea. Just part of Patrick Chan’s travels since we last spoke. True enough I did see him skate at Liberty in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago, but at the time, we didn’t get the chance to catch up. The catching up took place in a Toronto are rink on a hot July weekend during the shooting of a new commercial for Skate Canada.

Patrick has an ease about him which makes it very easy to have a “normal” conversation. He is grounded, well raised and has an open curiousity that is delightful. In between graciously signing autographs and taking pictures, he told me about taking a trip to Korea for a Yu-Na Kim show when he and his parents decided to keep going to Singapore to visit family and then Thailand for a well-deserved vacation. His eyes grow wide as he talks about his culture shock in Thailand as well as his experiences rock climbing and snorkeling.

Ever the sportsman, it doesn’t take much to get Patrick to talk about his non-ice pursuits in Colorado where he now makes his training base. He talks with enthusiasm about the mountain biking he does on Saturdays, the occasional white water rafting and the golfing he does on Sundays. I asked Patrick about his golfing handicap. (Side note – I don’t really know what the word means – but I have heard it bandied about so felt confident I wouldn’t be letting my dopey-ness showing) Patrick considered for a moment and then said “15” I said “mhhmmm” (my default response when I know I am supposed to acknowledge something but don’t really know on which side of the fence my response should fall.) I asked pair skater and Patrick’s Olympic roommate Bryce Davison who was sitting close by if this was good. Bryce said “for a full-time elite skater, a handicap of 15 is very good.” With the mystery of the extra-curricular sports solved, I said “Patrick, what about the skating??!!”

He smiled and said that he is having a great time training and his ratio of landed quads is almost 50/50. You get the feeling that he is gaining maturity and experience at a rapid rate. He talks about skating on a rink that is filled with skaters and the lessons that he is learning as a result; Valuable lessons like learning how to work around other skaters and to really experience the ebb and flow of a competitive session. He is enjoying his Monday – Friday skating week that includes three on-ice sessions and two more off-ice per day. Training at the high altitude in Colorado has had a positive effect on his stamina and he found himself not even a little out of breath at the conclusion of his short program at Liberty.

He is grateful for the friendships he’ll “have for a lifetime” from skating and recognizes that he has had the chance to see a lot more of the world than most 19 year olds. He considers competing to carry with it an adrenaline rush and feels that this was something he was born to do.

Having won the world silver medal for the last two years, Patrick would be lying if he said he didn’t have his sights set on the top of the podium in 2011. Time will tell but at this early pre-season stage, he is definitely one to watch.

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