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

U.S. figure skating could have its best world team since 2006

Nathan Chen performs during the men's free skate competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP
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KANSAS CITY — U.S. figure skating has a shot at medals in three of four disciplines at the world championships in Helsinki in two months, which hasn’t happened in 11 years.

Before this year, the U.S. men and U.S. women hadn’t boasted simultaneous medal contenders in a decade. Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek spent the 2010 Olympic cycle in the world elite, while the U.S. women faded. After they stopped competing, Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold moved into the women’s medal field while the U.S. searched for a new leading man.

He’s arrived. Nathan Chen confirmed he is one of the world’s best male skaters by landing a record seven quadruple jumps between two programs at Sprint Center this past week.

The 17-year-old already made the podium in an event that featured the world’s best, earning silver at the Grand Prix Final in December. Chen struggled with his short-program jumps at the Grand Prix Final and attempted one fewer quad overall yet still outscored everybody but Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu.

Of all of the U.S. medal hopes at worlds, Chen may face the stiffest trio of challengers. Not only is there Hanyu, but also two-time reigning world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain, plus Japan’s Shoma Uno, all of whom rank higher than Chen in best total scores in international competition this season.

MORE: Chen believes Olympic gold is possible after U.S. title

Wagner, who shares a coach with Chen, did not have her best nationals. She finished second to surprise winner Karen Chen (no relation to Nathan), who has yet to factor internationally.

But Wagner said before and after the U.S. Championships that her focus was to peak for the world championships. The goal for nationals was to make the world team, which required not winning but finishing in the top three. Mission accomplished.

The concern with Wagner is that she hasn’t produced a world medal-caliber result yet this season. Her best score from the fall ranks her sixth among women going to worlds. But Wagner has shown in the last few seasons that she can pull it together for major events. There’s her 2016 World Championships silver medal, plus her three straight Grand Prix Final medals from 2012-14.

At worlds, Wagner will have to deal with a Russian trio capable of sweeping the podium, three strong Japanese skaters, plus the revelation of this season, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond.

VIDEO: Wagner passed Puffs in emotional press conference moment

The U.S.’ strongest discipline continues to be ice dance. Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished second and third at the 2016 World Championships. They went one-two at the U.S. Championships this past week.

But two ice dance medals don’t appear to be in the cards in Helsinki. That’s because Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who earned gold and silver at the last two Olympics, came back this season after a two-year break.

Virtue and Moir broke international scoring records in the fall, sweeping their four starts. The two-time reigning world champions, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, also beat the U.S. couples at the Grand Prix Final.

The Shibutani siblings and Chock and Bates have never finished ahead of Virtue and Moir in competition. Neither has bettered the French since the December 2014 Grand Prix Final, either.

But all it takes is one dance medal, plus Chen and Wagner at their best in Helsinki, and the U.S. could go into the Olympic year in its best place since 2006.

MORE: Gracie Gold comments on split from coach Frank Carroll

Laurie Hernandez discusses life after Rio, new book on TODAY (video)

Laurie Hernandez
TODAY
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Laurie Hernandez‘s book, “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond,” is out Tuesday, and the Olympic champion gymnast stopped by TODAY on Monday to discuss its contents and life post-Rio.

An excerpt on Hernandez’s experience in Rio and the story of her floor-exercise wink to judges, is here.

On TODAY, Hernandez discussed another interesting anecdote from the book about tissues.

“Before Olympic Trials, we went out to eat, and I had a little breakdown because practice was really rough, and my routines weren’t coming the way I wanted them to,” she said. “This poor waitress kept bringing me over piles of tissues. … We were leaving, and my sister [Jelysa] told my dad, I’m going to save these tissues. I’m going to give them to her when she makes the team. I’m thinking to myself, you guys are crazy, this is not going to happen.”

Hernandez went on to finish second to Simone Biles at the Olympic Trials and make the five-woman Olympic team as the first U.S. female Olympian born in the 2000s.

The family celebrated the achievement, where Jelysa handed the tissues to Hernandez in a bag.

“Even when you fell, you couldn’t believe in yourself, we were there for you,” Jelysa told her.

“So it was a really defining moment,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez is away from gymnastics while promoting her book and touring with “Dancing with the Stars,” but she is expected to return to the sport at some point.

MORE: Hernandez explains 2017 goals: First date, driver’s license, Law & Order