World silver medallist Patrick Chan splits with coach Laws month before Games

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Canadian star Patrick Chan will head into the Vancouver Olympics without coach Don Laws after the two split less than a week before the Canadian figure skating championships.
The move comes as a shock considering the timing, but the reigning world silver medallist and one of Canada's top hopes for a medal in the sport at the 2010 Games, has been training the past few weeks in Colorado Springs, Colo., while Laws is based in Florida.
It was an arrangement that didn't sit well with the coach.
"The situation with Patrick being in Colorado and Don being in Florida, (Laws) didn't feel comfortable and he did send a letter to us saying that he didn't want to coach Patrick moving ahead," Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director, said Friday.
The announcement said Laws, who's coached Chan since 2007, had accepted a full-time job at the new skating facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., that the coach had been based at since November.
Chan, the reigning world silver medallist and one of Canada's top hopes for a medal in the sport at the 2010 Games, will continue to work with Canadian Lori Nichol, his longtime choreographer, and U.S. technical expert Christy Krall.
"Patrick had to make a decision and decided that he felt most comfortable with Lori and Christy, and we support the decision," Slipchuk.
The Toronto skater, who's on the mend from a calf injury he suffered in the fall, goes into next week's Canadian championships as the two-time defending champion. He travelled to Colorado after his disappointing sixth-place finish at Skate Canada in November, and has been working with Krall on perfecting his jumps using a video imaging program called Dartfish.
"They wanted me to stay on and just join him at championships, and that's not the way coaching is done," Laws said Friday. "I have to be here and he's out there. It's 2,000 miles apart. You can hardly be coached that way."
Laws told "I will say that he did not run from me, I ran from him."
Chan and Laws met at the funeral of Chan's former coach Osborne Colson, who died in 2006 at the age of 90. Colson had also coached Laws, who went on to a sparking coaching career of his own, guiding American star Scott Hamilton to gold at the 1984 Olympics and four world championship titles.
"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. "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."
Slipchuk said he's not concerned about Laws' departure. Chan has worked with Nichol, who is also a Level 3 NCCP Certified coach, for several years and with Krall since last May.
"It's a seamless transition. Up to this point, it was Don, Lori and Christy involved and now it's Christy and Lori," Slipchuk said. "When I saw him in Colorado (earlier this week), he looked as good and strong as he has in the past years.
"He'll be fine, Patrick's comfortable, this is what he wants and he's the one skating, so he knows best."
Chan said that Nichol will be in charge of his final preparation heading into the Vancouver Games, which open Feb. 12.
"I am very fortunate to have had such a long and close relationship with Lori and I respect her talents immensely," he said. "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.
"I am extremely comfortable with where I am at in my preparation and training for both the BMO Canadian figure skating championships and the Olympics."
Chan's presence in Colorado Springs has left an impression on the American skaters he's been training with there.
"Patrick is such an incredible skater," Rachael Flatt, a two-time U.S. silver medallist, told The Canadian Press in an email. "He is so talented in both the technical and artistic aspects, and his passion for skating shines through immensely.
"It is absolutely wonderful training with Patrick because he is such an inspiration. He never holds back in any of his training, and I have realized that is the same approach that I need to take in order to improve my skating. Several of the other skaters have not only used his past success as inspiration, but his day-to-day approach as well."

Organizations: Skate Canada, Dartfish, Patrick's BMO Canadian Press

Geographic location: Colorado Springs, Colo., Canada, Florida Vancouver Olympics U.S. West Palm Beach Toronto

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