Patrick Chan

Patrick Chan’s phone call with Sidney Crosby at Vancouver Olympics

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Patrick Chan‘s Olympic debut as a teenager in 2010 included typical nerves and an out-of-the ordinary conversation with the Canadian under the most pressure at the Vancouver Games.

Chan, then 19, was en route to the rink with trainer Andy O’Brien, who also works with Sidney Crosby.

Let the Canadian Press pick it up from there:

“I told Andy I was nervous — who wouldn’t be? — I was really nervous about the event. Andy was like, ‘Oh, I’ll call Sid,’” said Chan, who opens his season next week at Skate Canada International.

“We talked about expectations and at the end of the day, he told me, ‘Yeah, the Canadian hockey team has the most pressure out of all the events.’ The way he put it in perspective was that we train every day and we train every day to kind of build an automatic pilot, and in order to initiate that automatic pilot when you’re playing, you have to put it in perspective.

“For example, my mentality is that this isn’t the end of the world, people will support me because they want me to win, and they want the best for me and they want a medal for Canada, and I accept that. But then I have to be selfish in a way and realize I’m doing it for myself and that was the mistake I made in Vancouver. I wanted to win the medal for Canada, and I looked at it as a big picture instead of narrowing it down to me wanting to be there, and me wanting to compete and excited to compete, and eager to win a medal.”

Chan entered the 2010 Olympics as the reigning world silver medalist with overwhelming pressure — to become Canada’s first Olympic men’s figure skating champion after years of just misses and the first teenager to win the event in 62 years.

His medal hopes were dashed via a seventh-place finish in the short program. He rebounded with the fourth-best free skate, a personal-best score, to finish fifth overall.

Ten days later, Crosby scored the game-winning goal in overtime as Canada beat the U.S. for hockey gold on the final day of the Olympics.

The phone call is not the first time Chan and Crosby have been linked.

A chiropractor also compared the two.

“I found Sidney Crosby’s Asian brother,” Mark Lindsay reportedly said, according to the Toronto Star, after first working on Chan.

“One of the things that’s really unique is they’ve got really good tissue,” O’Brien told the newspaper. “They have the ability to be very muscular but very flexible.”

Despite the pressure, Chan was not the favorite going into the Vancouver Olympics. 2009 world champion Evan Lysacek and 2006 Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko battled for gold, as expected.

But this time, Chan enters as the three-time reigning world champion (though his most recent title was heavily disputed).

“Vancouver was a pressure because it was a thought of winning a gold medal at home.” Chan told reporters in a conference call previewing Skate Canada next week. “I put that pressure on myself, like, ‘Oh my god, the dream of all dreams would be to win an Olympic gold medal in your home country and hearing your anthem in Canada.’

“Sochi is different. … Coming in as three-time world champion, you put expectations on yourself, there’s a lot of talk. ‘Is this the year that he’s not going to put it together, and he’s going to be dethroned?’ I think I have many more tools going into Sochi to overcome those pressures.”

Evan Lysacek out of Skate America

Italian curler roars after hitting shot to qualify for Olympics (video)

Italy curling
World Curling
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Forgive Amos Mosaner for shouting, for he clinched Italy’s first Olympic curling qualification.

Mosaner’s double takeout in an extra end put Italy past Denmark 6-5 in the last-chance Olympic qualification tournament in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on Sunday.

He rushed down the ice after that last stone, tossed his broom aside, pumped his fist and roared into a group hug with teammates.

Skip Joël Retornaz returns to the Olympics after a 12-year absence. He skipped Italy’s team at the 2006 Olympics, where they earned an automatic berth as host nation.

“This has such a different taste,” the 34-year-old Retornaz said, according to World Curling. “Earning the right on the ice feels great. It feels like a dream for me.”

Denmark later did make the Olympic field as the last nation, beating the Czechs for the spot.

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MORE: List of Russia Olympic medals stripped; new Sochi medal standings

The Pyeongchang Olympic curling fields:

Men
Canada
Sweden
U.S.
Japan
Switzerland
Great Britain
Norway
Italy
Denmark
South Korea

Women
Canada
Russia
Switzerland
Great Britain
U.S.
Sweden
Japan
China
Denmark
South Korea

Mixed Doubles
China
Canada
Russia
U.S.
Switzerland
Norway
Finland
South Korea

Russia says its athletes want to compete at Pyeongchang Olympics

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian athletes are overwhelmingly in favor of competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Games despite a ban on the national team, the country’s Olympic committee said Monday.

Sofia Velikaya said the Russian Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission, which she chairs, has heard from “all the athletes in all sports” on the Olympic program, with a majority in favor of competing.

Velikaya said no athletes have told the ROC they would rather boycott.

“At the current moment, everyone’s training and everyone’s hoping to take part in the Olympics,” Velikaya said.

The International Olympic Committee last week barred the Russian team from Pyeongchang because of doping offenses at the Sochi Olympics, but is allowing Russians to compete under a neutral flag as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the government won’t stand in their way.

ROC spokesman Konstantin Vybornov said teams from biathlon and snowboard had recorded videos affirming their desire to compete, while the men’s hockey team has written “a collective letter.”

Some Russian hardliners believe it is shameful for athletes to compete at the Olympics without their national flag. But Velikaya defended the athletes, saying everyone watching will know who is from Russia.

“The choice of competing at the Olympics is strictly individual,” Velikaya said. “I call on Russian society to treat athletes’ decisions with understanding and respect.”

With the IOC due to send out invitations to individual Russians over the next two months, Velikaya said Russian sports officials would put together lists of their preferred teams.

Those rosters, she said, would stop the IOC from inviting “numbers five and six” in the Russian team while leaving out genuine medal contenders.

Russia is pushing back against some IOC conditions, however, backing appeals by Russian athletes banned for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Velikaya also said her commission will ask the IOC to remove a condition stopping athletes from being invited to Pyeongchang if they have been suspended for doping in the past.

That affects a few athletes with earlier offenses unconnected to the Sochi Olympics, including biathletes banned for using the blood-booster EPO and speed skating world champion Denis Yuskov, who was suspended in 2008 after testing positive for marijuana.

Forcing the Russians to compete as neutral athletes puts the IOC in the uncomfortable position of regulating how they celebrate.

The Russian flag won’t be flown at medal ceremonies, but what happens if a Russian winner accepts a flag or a gift from a spectator for a victory lap? Can Russian athletes fly the flag from their windows in the athletes village?

Those are on a list of questions Vybornov said Russia will ask of the IOC.

“A figure skater wins, let’s say, and they throw her a teddy bear in Russian uniform onto the ice,” Vybornov said. “She picks it up. Can she do that? Or is that an offense?”

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