It’s not every day you get to train with an Olympic gold medalist.
When nine-year-old Aidan Young heard he could train with figure skating Olympian Patrick Chan, he jumped at the idea. Literally.
“My favourite part of the day was the jumping; I just like going up into the air,” he said of training with the Olympian on Saturday.
“I learned how to loop jump, which I like. I would just spin into a backspin and then jump across the ice, which was real fun.”
Aidan was one of the 86 developing figure skaters who participated in the third annual Skate with a Champion event held at Colchester Legion Stadium Saturday.
This year’s event, hosted by the Truro Figure Skating Club, saw world-champion figure skater and Olympic gold medalist Chan step into the role of trainer, something he looks forward to doing since announcing his retirement from competition early last week.
“This was my first seminar since the Olympics,” said Chan.
“I haven’t taught in about three or four years, so it’s a bit of a new experience again. I was definitely looking forward to sharing my experience and knowledge with young skaters now that I am in the next phase of my career, just as a way to give back to the community.”
Throughout the day, Chan worked with numerous groups of skaters, helping them fine tune their skills while learning new techniques and tricks.
“It felt good to be taught by Patrick,” said Aidan.
“He helped me learn a lot of things like a change camel spin. You basically do a normal camel spin, but you switch to your other foot to come out of the spin.”
Chan and Aidan both started skating at the age of six. But Chan has noticed a shift in today’s sports world that, compared to when he entered, might make it a bit more difficult on young athletes.
“The level of expectation is very high in today’s figure skating and in sports in general,” he said.
“We are finding more of these phenoms who are younger and younger each time. Talent is being identified at a very young age, but they have also increased the volume of training to a point where young athletes become machines. That creates a lot of pressure on the coaches, the athletes and the parents.”
Although the sport may be tougher to break into today, Chan is still happy to share his experience with young athletes, and enjoys knowing he can inspire them to keep working toward their goals.
“I find it so enriching and fascinating, because I’ve lived my life and career within my own eyes; I’ve never seen it from the perspective of a young skater, parent or fan,” he said.
“My message is, it really can be anybody that can make to the Olympics. Never did I imagine I’d be where I am, everything has been a surprise each year. That’s a big reason why I like coming to smaller communities, is to inspire the kids and get them into, not even figure skating, but skating in general.”
While Chan’s training at the event mainly focused on fine tuning the basic skills for the skaters, his presence definitely left a few skaters inspired and looking forward to the future.
“I want to go to the Olympics in the future, Patrick Chan inspired me to work towards that,” said Aidan.
“I’ve set a goal for myself, and I think I’ll get there when I’m around 20. If I won, I think I would maybe just take a break and come back here to help other kids learn how to skate.”