World silver medalist Patrick Chan has split with coach Don Laws on the eve of the Canadian championships and a month before the Olympics.
Laws, who guided Scott Hamilton to four world titles and the 1984 Olympics gold medal, has decided to take a full-time role at a new skating facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. Chan will be coached at his nationals and at the Vancouver Games by choreographer Lori Nichol and technical adviser Christy Krall.
No Canadian man has won the gold medal in singles.
It’s a surprising move so close to the Olympics; Chan has worked with Laws since 2007. But Chan has spent the last few weeks training with Krall in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I would like to sincerely thank Mr. Laws for everything he has done over the past few years with me and I wish him nothing but the best at the Palm Beach Ice Works,” Chan said in a release Friday. “I respect his decision to move into his role full time and I know he will build a successful program at the new rink. He has been a real mentor to me. …”
Chan’s career has soared since he teamed with Laws. He went from second at junior worlds to ninth at seniors to second in three seasons. Chan also won Four Continents last year.
But with a calf injury shortening this season, he struggled to sixth place at Skate Canada in November, falling three times in his free skate. Not exactly the way a premier skater wants to approach the Olympics.
Nichol has coached before, and Chan said he will not miss a beat having her and Krall replace Laws.
“I am extremely comfortable with where I am at in my preparation and training,” Chan said. “Lori Nichol will take on the responsibility of leading my final preparation and competition strategy through the Olympics. I am very fortunate to have had such a long and close relationship with Lori and I respect her talents immensely.
“Lori, along with Christy Krall, provides me with a team that I have full confidence in and I am looking forward to continuing my journey with them.”
While working in Colorado Springs, Chan impressed U.S. skaters Rachael Flatt and Ryan Bradley.
“It’s been wonderful having him train in the Springs with all of us,” Flatt said. “He’s such an incredible skater. He is very inspiring when it comes to the way he trains. He’s very motivated and very dedicated to the choreography, especially.
“He goes all out, he holds nothing back.”
Added Bradley, a hopeful for the U.S. Olympic team:
“It’s really pushed me to try and up my skating skills a lot because he’s so brilliant at those things and it’s so natural. When he goes out to skate, I’m like, ‘Wow, my crossovers next to your crossovers, it’s not going to look so good.’
“It’s so motivating. It’s been awesome. I hope he keeps coming back.”
AP National Writer Nancy Armour in Chicago contributed to this story.