SOCHI, Russia – Patrick Chan ridiculed the “curse of Canada” after becoming the latest men’s figure skater to fail to win gold at the Winter Olympics.
Chan, the three-time world champion, had high hopes of topping the podium in Sochi, even after slipping behind Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu following the short program. However, he made three mistakes on Friday night and was unable to close the gap, being forced to settle for silver and cause talk of the infamous curse to spark up once more.
Canada has produced the men’s world champion on 14 occasions, but none of those have gone on to clinch the ultimate triumph in the Olympics.
“There is a so-called curse,” Chan said. “I find it a bit funny that they label it as a curse if we can’t achieve a gold medal at a particular event.
“We tend to forget how successful a lot of our Canadian athletes are. You can’t take away the fact we have multiple world champions and multiple medalists – just because this one event didn’t turn out to be a gold, we tend to quickly forget that Canadians and myself are still very successful athletes and we have changed the sport of figure skating.”
Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko, Brian Orser and now Chan are all among the world champions who could not go all the way in the Olympics. While they have been desperately unlucky, Chan only had himself to blame at the Iceberg Skating Palace. In a somewhat fitting twist of irony, all three former champions were in the building: Orser had one of the best seats in the arena as Hanyu’s coach, Stojko is an expert contributor for Yahoo Sports, and Browning is doing colour commentary for CBC.
Hanyu had opened the door for Chan to grab gold by falling twice during the long program. Chan himself had predicted after the short program that the Japanese youngster might feel the pressure on the big stage.
Yet Chan, skating next, was perhaps similarly afflicted, despite his wealth of international experience. He stumbled on several key maneuvers and ended his chance of victory.
Despite looking happy at the end, his smile was a wry one, and sure enough the judges quickly confirmed that it would be a Japanese skater, and not a Canadian, walking away with his country’s first gold medal in men’s figure skating.
“I am disappointed, of course,” Chan said. “But there is also some relief that this is over. It has been a long road ever since Vancouver and there was a lot of pressure and expectation, from myself more than anyone.”
More than anything, the night will be remembered for its thrills and spills, with several athletes attempting quad jumps and failing to execute them successfully. Hanyu has tried to push the boundaries of the sport technically but could not skate a clean routine and feared he would be edged out.
“When I fell I thought the gold medal might be gone,” he said.
Denis Ten of Kazakhstan came in third, producing a superb performance that leapfrogged him from ninth place after the short program and onto the podium.
Kevin Reynolds, the other Canadian in the men’s competition, was 10th in the free skate and moved up two places to 15th.