Remember those “obnoxious” banner-waving fans who appeared at the end of every video and broadcast of Patrick’s spectacular 2016 Four Continents Championships (4CC) free program, the ones Patrick and Kathy waved to after they learned that he had won? Well, I asked Bea and she was very generous to allow me to interview her about her experiences there, and what it was like to meet her favorite CHANpion, Patrick.
When and how did you become a Patrick Chan fan? What qualities about him and his skating attracted you to him?
It’s funny how I became a Patrick Chan fan, honestly. I casually watched the 2010 Olympics when I was in college, but only paid attention to the ladies. I only started watching men’s figure skating during the 2014 Olympics, when a skater from my country qualified for it. (FYI: I’m from the Philippines!) Patrick’s skating already impressed me, but it wasn’t until after the Olympics that I became a fan. (I’m pretty sure I became one after watching Patrick’s old competition videos, particularly his 2011 Nationals free skate.)
There are many things I like about Patrick’s skating. I love how he interprets his program, whatever music it is that he’s skating to. There’s also his edges, which are really exquisite. I’ve always compared him to another favorite athlete of mine, Roger Federer; he’s a genius in the sport.
Do you travel often to see Patrick? How many of his events have you attended? How many times have you met him in person? Was 4CC in Taipei the last event you attended?
I’ve never traveled to watch figure skating until this year. 4CC in Taipei was actually the first international figure skating championship I’ve ever watched outside the country. I was more determined to go, especially when Patrick was announced to be on the team. I’m not sure when will be the next time I’ll be able to watch Patrick skate, so I had to make sure this trip counted, which meant showing my support for Patrick, and maybe even meeting him.
You created a banner for Patrick that was captured on every competition broadcast and news video of Patrick’s skate at 4CC. The banner said, “The CHANpion Is Back”. Can you tell me more about your banner? What inspired you to create one for Patrick, and how did you go about doing it? Was this the first one you created, or have you created other ones for him before?
It all began with the hashtag, actually. When Patrick announced he would be returning to competition, I used the hashtag #TheCHANpionIsBack on Twitter for Skate Canada, Trophée Eric Bompard, and Canadian Nationals; but it was for, um, personal use? I tweet with the hashtag, but I don’t expect anyone to use it.
For the banner, my friends and I have this thing of making banners for skaters and sending it to whatever competition they are in. Since we were actually watching our favorite skaters in an international competition in Taipei, we knew we had to make banners for them. (We brought a total of 13 banners to Taipei! Patrick’s banner was not the only one seen on TV, haha.) Of course, I had one banner made for Patrick, and I thought the most appropriate text for that banner was, of course, “The CHANpion Is Back.” I didn’t design the banner because I have zero graphic design skills, but shoutout to my friend Trisha for designing it for me!
I really didn’t expect the media to pick up on the banner and the hashtag, but then again, with a banner that big, who wouldn’t notice it? And what more appropriate tagline on the day [when] Patrick won 4CC with the best skate of his career, right?
What did it feel like to have Patrick wave to you after his score was announced?
I didn’t notice that Patrick was waving to me after his score was announced! I was too elated celebrating and waving the banner. He did give me a thumbs up and waved at me during the victory lap after the awards ceremony, and I was so happy he noticed me.
You were able to take a picture with Patrick at an event afterwards. Can you tell me more about that? When you met Patrick in private, what was your impression of him?
My friends and I went to the hotel after the gala, where the skaters were getting ready for the closing banquet. I didn’t get to meet Patrick that whole week, so I thought this was my last chance. We were in the hallway on the floor where the skaters were in line registering for the closing banquet. I didn’t see Patrick yet, so we approached every available skater near us for a photo-op and an autograph.
By the time we finished talking to the Shibutanis, I craned my neck and saw Patrick and Team Canada at the back of the line, on the other side of the hallway. I knew I wouldn’t be able to approach him if he arrived at the front of the line, so I made a run for the other side of the hallway, abandoning my friends. (Sorry!)
I’m not good at initiating conversations, but I gathered all my courage and approached Patrick, who was talking to Kevin Reynolds, if I remember correctly. I called him, he spun around, and I congratulated him. He said his thanks. I admitted being the one holding the banner, and he said he really liked it and said thanks again. After that, I ran out of words to say and asked for a photo with him.
When I met him, my first impression was that he’s nice to fans. That line was for skaters, and that was their time to relax, but he was very accommodating and very appreciative of fans. Meeting him and actually being able to strike a very short conversation with him made me like him even more. I just wish I was able to talk to him longer.
Have you met any of Patrick’s family or other members of his team or staff?
No, unfortunately. Like I said, I didn’t get the chance to meet Patrick until the gala. I wish I can meet his parents and Coach Kathy someday!
What is it like to see Patrick skate in person vs. watching him on TV? What do you think about his skating now, compared to when you first knew him? What are your thoughts on his future?
Seeing Patrick skate in person defied all my expectations. Watching him skate on ISU streams and on YouTube always took my breath away, but being able to watch him live gave me chills. I’m very honored to have witnessed the best free skate of his career.
Admittedly, though, it wasn’t the best season for Patrick, considering he had just come back from competitive skating, but I’m very happy that he came back at all. I think he still has so much to give to the sport. I really hope that he’ll continue to grow as an athlete, and I wish all the best things for him for the next seasons.
If you could give Patrick an award or gift, what would it be?
I would like to give Patrick something from my country; I’m not yet sure what it is, though. I do hope that it will encourage him to visit the Philippines someday!
Is there anything else you would really like people to know about Patrick?
All I want to say is that no one should count Patrick out yet. I’m confident he still has some tricks up his sleeves, and I’m sure he’ll be back on top for next season!
Did I miss anything that you wanted to talk about?