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Chan uncertain if he will keep skating

Published: Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 9:52 a.m. CDT
Caption
(AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Silver medalist figure skater Patrick Chan, of Canada, speaks at a news conference at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Patrick Chan didn't get what he came to Sochi for, that elusive Olympic men's figure skating gold medal that Canada never has taken home.

Now he's at a crossroads in his career at the age of 23.

Chan is uncertain if he will continue competitive skating. Next up on the schedule after he came in second to Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu at the Sochi Games would be the world championships, which Chan has won the last three years. He was noncommital Saturday about going next month to Saitama, Japan.

"I have won three world championships and I don't know if I could go to another one now," Chan said after a relatively sleepless night. "I'm pretty exhausted. It definitely does drain you and you lose perspective. I need to take time to see what I want to do."

What he did in Sochi is unprecedented, the only men's singles skater to win two medals; he also got silver in the new team event. But it didn't offer him much solace — Chan knew the gold on Friday night was within grasp in the free skate, and he let it slip away.

"It may seem ridiculous that we are so tough on ourselves for (winning) a silver medal," he said. "You train every day for that perfect skate. I couldn't sleep much last night thinking about those split seconds that you could've done something else.

"You imagine the glory of winning the gold and changing history, and also fearing not achieving that. But I woke up this morning alive and well."

The grind was exhausting, and Chan questioned why organizers scheduled the short and long programs on consecutive nights. It clearly damaged the event because the men's free skate was sloppier than any in recent history, and it came less than a full day after a lengthy short program that stretched nearly until midnight.

"It's hard," he said Saturday. "You can't really train for moments like yesterday. I do my short program and long program every day, but a short program in front of an Olympic audience and media is another level. That's demanding a lot from such a precise sport and it's pretty close to impossible.

"Maybe a day between would have been nice."

Chan will spend the rest of his days in Sochi watching other sports, and he has no plans to ponder another Olympic venture at this time. When asked if the 2018 Games in South Korea are an option, he instead said he wanted to enjoy having these silver medals hanging around his neck.

"It's hard to look that far ahead," he said. "I didn't even do that after Vancouver and I didn't even win a medal.

"It would be tough to go to Pyeongchang and sort of start a new journey. Figure skating is a tough, tough sport. Competing is tough. Days like yesterday sure don't make it easy to make a decision."

Chan came to Sochi as the latest favorite among Canadian men at an Olympics. Predecessors including Brian Orser, Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko held such lofty positions and didn't get to the top of the podium.

None of them has anything to be ashamed of, something Chan readily recognizes. All were major contributors to the sport and still are in some fashion. Ironically, Orser coaches Hanyu.

After the long program, Orser shared an embrace with Chan and later described it as "bittersweet."

"I got more emotional giving Patrick a hug than I did my own skater," Orser said, swelling with Canadian pride.

Chan appreciated the gesture and the words of encouragement between countrymen.

"I worked with Brian a few times and we've had a long relationship. We're not extremely close, but we definitely are friends," Chan said. "I was surprised he said that."

While Chan spends the next week cheering on Canadians at various Olympic venues, he knows he'll soon need to confront his future.

"I will always be involved in figure skating," Chan said. "I love performing and going on tour and sharing those special moment when I can create magic on the ice. I want to take full advantage of that.

"I have to take time and look at that, and do I want to relive moments like I experienced (in the free skate). Maybe there is room for improvement in the next four years. But the question is do I enjoy competing?"

___

AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen contributed to this story.

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