Ever since I saw this gorgeous fan’s photo (below) of Patrick Chan and Jeffrey Buttle wearing her crocheted scarves (cowls), I knew I had to find out more. VChan has met Patrick twice during Stars On Ice meet and greets during the past two years. Much thanks to her for generously sharing her media and experiences here!
— VChan (@vcchan) May 16, 2017
1. How and when did you become a Patrick Chan fan? What qualities about him and his skating attracted you?
I believe I heard about Patrick around 2009 or 2010. To answer your question, the first thing I did was Google “Patrick Chan costumes through the years” and clicked on “An Illustrated History of Patrick Chan’s Costumes” from your webpage to trigger my memory. In 2011 or 2012, I watched him perform “Concierto de Aranjuez” on television. This was the first time I saw him skate. What really struck me the most was how I could see the fire in his eyes before his performance. Back then, I didn’t know enough about figure skating to realize Patrick’s phenomenal technique and speed.
When the 2014 Sochi Olympics came, men’s figure skating was the only sport that I followed. As a fellow Canadian, I was rooting for Patrick to win gold [and] felt really nervous watching him perform (I was worried that the stress of the Olympics might affect his performance). Still, I thought he skated beautifully. I developed a lot of empathy over how he must have felt, being so close to an Olympic gold. Nevertheless, I remember being very proud of Patrick for what he accomplished at the Olympics.
After the Olympics, he took a year off. However, the 2014-2015 season marked the beginning of my figure skating fever. I began watching the men skate, then I broadened my horizons to watch the rest of the skating disciplines. In August 2015 I decided to go to Skate Canada International in Alberta to see Patrick as well as Yuzuru Hanyu, Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel, and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. It didn’t take long for me to appreciate his graceful and detail-oriented movements. I’ve watched all of Patrick’s performances since that day. I love watching his speed across the ice and I am mesmerized by his footwork. The best description of the way he skates was stated by my sister: “like butter on ice.” His skating skills are so smooth, elegant, and polished!
I’ve watched many YouTube interviews and segments featuring Patrick. The two things that strike me the most about him are his candor and amiability. It was interesting to know how he felt about the changing figure skating environment after a one-year hiatus, and [his] plans to stay current while maintaining his own style.
2. Do you travel often to see Patrick? How many of his events have you attended? How many times have you met him in person?
I would travel more often to see Patrick if I could. I have been to Skate Canada International in Lethbridge in October 2015 and Skate Canada International in Mississauga in October 2016. Luckily, I’ve had the privilege of seeing him live a total of five times. I [went] to Stars On Ice for the past three years. In 2016 and 2017 I bought meet and greet passes after the shows to meet him and the skaters in person!
3. Tell me about your 2017 Stars On Ice Edmonton show experience. What did it feel like to meet Patrick in person after the show? What was your impression of him?
I bought 7 tickets for my family and friends! After clearing security, my sister and I [stood and] watched the opening act. Then we darted downstairs and waited for an opportunity to run to our seats on the ice. I really enjoyed the show – especially the group number “Fratres” by Arvo Pärte and “Better to be Loved” by Francesco Yates (Jeffrey Buttle’s first solo of the night). I always appreciate SOI because of the classical and contemporary music pieces featured, and I replay songs after the shows end.
— VChan (@vcchan) May 15, 2017
I was not nervous to meet Patrick because I had already met him once before. The first time I met him, I was slightly nervous because I didn’t know what to say. Although I had prepared questions for the skaters, there was a time limit for each table. As a result, I didn’t ask him any questions at all since I prioritized pictures. I felt extreme regret that night. Apart from that, both meetings left me feeling very satisfied.
I was starstruck meeting them [for] the first time. The set up was different, as I was in a line and had to go to each skater table by table. There was definitely a time crunch. The second time, there was still a line, but I went to the tables on my own. The skaters were seated and staggered in an area instead of lined up in one row. The total time of the meet and greet was still the same, but I felt less rushed.
Whenever I see Patrick live, I am impressed by his glowing skin complexion! He and the rest of the skaters were very considerate. I saw Jeffrey, Patrick and Kaetlyn get up from their chairs to take a few photos with a young girl. Near the end of the meet and greet, there was another little girl who brought her doll named “Patrick Chan”! She got a picture exclusively with Patrick while holding her doll. It was adorable to see! (Scroll through photos below.)
4. You crocheted some nice scarves for Patrick and Jeffrey. Can you tell us more about your gifts? What was Patrick’s reaction when you gave it to him?
I was reflecting on what sort of gifts I could give seasoned skaters like Jeffrey and Patrick that they didn’t already own, [and] I wanted to give them a memento of Edmonton. I chose cowls as gifts because it can get quite cold on the ice. I also saw a clip of Jeffrey wearing a scarf around his neck at the Toronto Cricket Club. [So] my sister bought me a pouch full of crochet tools and a large ball of yarn. My other sister rented a [crocheting] book from the public library for me. I took the cowl pattern from a website. The first cowl took me almost half a day to make. I made three cowls before I made [the ones] for Patrick and Jeffrey.
(At the SOI Edmonton meet and greet) I told them I wanted to give them something to keep them warm, since they spend a lot of time on the ice. They were both pleasantly surprised. Jeffrey said he loved it because he wears scarves and cowls all the time. Kaetlyn Osmond, who sat next to Jeffrey, also said he wears them all the time. When I gave Patrick his cowl he looked happy. Patrick asked me if I made it and I said yes. He asked, “How do I wear this?” and cracked me up. Jeffrey told him, “You wear it any way you like.” Then Jeffrey proceeded to slip it over his head. Patrick followed Jeffrey’s actions.
When I asked for a photo, they took off the cowls and I didn’t think anything of it. Then I went around the room meeting the rest of the skaters. When I was finished, I felt that something was incomplete. Of course, it was a picture of Patrick and Jeffrey wearing the cowls! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, but my younger sister kept egging me on to ask them. We had recently talked about things we regretted not doing, and we both [concluded] that if there’s hesitation, it means we will likely regret not going forward. Therefore, it is best to just do it! And with that, I was compelled to stand in line for my photo!
— VChan (@vcchan) May 16, 2017
As I waited, I could feel Patrick glancing towards me. Fearing embarrassment, I had to look in other directions. When it came to my turn, I asked if I could have another picture with them. They were more than happy to do so – I think they were already standing, getting ready for the photo. I then specified, “with the cowls”, haha. I think Patrick reached for his cowl first. It was a blur after that. I don’t remember what was discussed or if anything was discussed, but they stood away from their tables against the backdrop where the blue lights suspended from the ceiling. This was one of those out-of-world experiences where the body moves on its own and words unknowingly come from the mouth. I was already heading into the center of the photo as one of them asked me, “Do you want to be in the middle?” Apparently, I did not need an invitation!
What I do remember is thanking them for the photo afterwards and saying it was a dream come true. When I looked at the pictures, I thought they looked good in the cowls. I posted [one] a couple of days later [and] tweeted it to Patrick and Jeffrey. Much to my delight, Jeffrey liked the tweet and retweeted! I felt so honored and acknowledged. The fangirl nerd inside me said, “Mission accomplished”!
5. 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 saw him? What are your thoughts on his future?
When I see skaters on the ice in person vs. watching them on TV, their movements seem more pronounced. It’s like you can feel their emotions more. The two times that I went to Skate Canada International, I brought binoculars with me. I like to watch the skater’s facial expressions [because] that isn’t always followed by the TV cameras. I remember zooming in on Patrick’s face with my binoculars to ascertain what emotions he was experiencing while doing certain sequences, jumps or spins.
Also, one thing that the cameras don’t capture (unless it’s with professional cameras up close) is how spectacular the skaters’ costumes are… video footage doesn’t do them justice! The colors are more vivid, the weaving of fabric is visible, and the rhinestones glitter like diamonds under the lighting. It’s really magical to be able to see them in person. I definitely recommend bringing binoculars, [as] you get to see the skaters up close and personal. Not only that, it showcases the beauty of the handmade costumes.
When I see Patrick skating in person, his blades are so quiet and gentle. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true! After watching him perform live, I pay attention to facial expressions and transitions, and especially how skaters exit their jumps and spins. I think Patrick has the smoothest transitions in the business. I have read comments that [he] does not convey as much emotion as other skaters, and I totally beg to differ. On the contrary, Patrick puts a lot of attention [on] the way he finishes his movements. I remember watching a documentary about how Patrick’s former coach, Kathy Johnson, was a modern dance teacher who went to Juilliard School. What she taught him probably heightened his awareness of his finishing movements.
Around August 2016, Patrick said he was planning on opening up a school of skating in Vancouver. I think it would be great if he does [it]. I am confident that Patrick would be able to train well-rounded skaters, and I’m excited to see how his future students [would] do on the competitive circuit. I can also see Patrick touring the world in ice shows, and I am sure he will be a mainstay of Stars On Ice Canada for many years. Lastly, I see a future where Patrick enters the commentator business with the great Kurt Browning! I will miss Patrick when he decides to officially retire, but I’m confident he will help shape the sport of figure skating in the future. I will always be a fan!
6. For next season, what music would you like to see Patrick skate to? Costume choices?
This is such an excellent question. I would like him to skate to something similar to his “A Journey” free skate from last season. I would want him to skate to something lighthearted and peaceful for [his long program] and something more bold and passionate for his short program.
I listen to all sorts of music, including anime and video game music. Because Patrick likes playing video games, I think it would be interesting if he does at least one of his programs to a video game soundtrack. I’m not advertising anything, but I think he would do a very good job with the main theme song to “Your Lie in April” mixed with the main protagonist’s theme song. The main theme song portrays poignant love. The main protagonist’s theme song opens with an individual on the brink of a self-awakening [going on] to the hope and inspiration drawn from the awakening. Patrick’s graceful ballet and contemporary dance movements would complement these two beautiful pieces.
Patrick seems like a very practical, low-maintenance person. He’s had simple costumes these past two seasons [and] I have a feeling he doesn’t like to have a lot of embellishments on [them]. Of course the costumes should reflect the music selection. I personally would like to see Patrick in a little more bedazzle. [But] I think the most important thing is that he is comfortable and confident in his costumes.
7. What is the next skating event where you will go see Patrick skate live?
I will definitely see him again at Stars On Ice! I am debating whether to go to Skate Canada International in Regina this upcoming season… depends [on] if I go to the 2018 Olympics or not. I have been throwing around the idea of going to the Pyeongchang Olympics for years now. I told a lot of my friends and family [and] they all encouraged me to go. I’ve often joked that I should become a newscaster or public figure so I can have backstage access. People don’t stop dreaming when they become adults, haha. The fact that I’m yapping about this means I still want to go! I would love to explore Korea at the same time. I’ve always wanted to go there to enjoy the culture and especially the food.
8. Have you met any of Patrick’s family or other members of his team or staff?
No. That would be really cool, though. I am simply a fan of his.
9. Is there anything else you would really like people to know about Patrick?
I want to share [two stories] about Patrick and Jeffrey. This happened at the end of the Stars On Ice meet and greet this year. After I took the picture with Patrick and Jeffrey wearing the cowls, Jeffrey noticed that someone had left their program on their table with all the skaters’ signatures on it! He quickly grabbed the program, calling out to the fans who were just about to leave the area. “Excuse me. Did someone leave behind a program?”
One of the fans jokingly said she could take the program. Jeffrey laughed – I could tell he wanted to return the program to its rightful owner. A short while later, somehow the owner came back and reclaimed [it]. I thought it was very sweet of Jeffrey to return the program book. He’s a very caring person. Whenever I see him with his big smile, I feel his love for humanity emanating! I love backstage scenes for things because that’s often when people’s personalities come to light!
My sister, mom and I were the last fans to leave. Most of the skaters had left the area already, [but] Patrick stuck around, standing by his table. My mom said, “So now…” She wasn’t directing her question to anyone in particular that I could tell. Unexpectedly, Patrick answered, “Now we rest and then tomorrow we go to Calgary.” Then my mom asked a question about their schedule and Patrick answered again! He is very polite!
The other story I have about Patrick happened after I presented the cowls. Patrick had appeared on the CBC children’s show “Bookaboo” where he read a book called “Silly Billy” by Anthony Browne. I told him I saw him in “Peek-a-boo” reading the “Book of Worries”, haha. He said, “Oh, ‘Bookaboo’ and ‘Silly Billy’? It was a bit embarrassing to get zero out of two correct, but he still knew what I was talking about. I told him he was adorable in that segment and he thanked me.
Jeffrey asked, “What’s Bookaboo?” Patrick explained, but made eye contact with me and my family so as not to make us feel left out. I asked him if he chose the book himself and he said yes. He told me he had to make sure it was an acceptable choice, and he chose it because it was relatable to him. I knew it! He told me Joannie Rochette also appeared as a guest on Bookaboo before. I encourage every Patrick Chan fan to watch this! He looks fatherly, comforting Bookaboo. That was probably not acting either!
10. Did I miss anything skating-related that you wanted to talk about?
Growing up, I watched figure skating sporadically. I loved the costumes and the grace of the skaters [and] how [they] carried so much emotion on the ice. Figure skating is the first sport that I really followed closely, and it has evolved so much over the years. I wanted to comment that it seems like many skaters feel they have to push themselves technically in order to increase their chances of being on the podium. This could be either at the sacrifice of presentation and/or their long-term health. I think with the current generation of top male skaters, it will be informative to note the types of injuries, surgeries or other health issues [they] experience. I also wonder if the International Skating Union (ISU) will place future restrictions on the number of elements in skaters’ programs.
On another note, I have some interview questions for Patrick, in case anyone ever gets a chance to ask him!
1. I wonder if Patrick is still planning to open a skating school. Would he be the head coach? It would be really nice to have his “gliding across the ice like a hot knife through butter” technique passed down to future skaters.
2. I would also like to know how much input Patrick has on his costumes. Does he come up with the ideas and have someone else refine them? Aside from the music selection, where is he drawing inspiration for costume selection?
3. This is just gossip, but I am really curious if he will meet Yuna Kim again at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February. Without a doubt, Yuna will play a central role as the ambassador of the games and of her country. Patrick and Yuna used to be closer when they were both with choreographer David Wilson. I think it would be a blessing if they stay in touch as close friends in the future. I’d really like to see more pictures of them together.
4. If Patrick had to give a TED talk, what topic and theme would he choose, and why?
5. Many people think about things that they would have said to the younger version of themselves if they had the chance. What would Patrick Chan tell young Patrick Chan? What would current Patrick Chan like to tell his future self?
Viv: I would love to know the answers to the above questions as well, especially the one about the TED talk subject!
Journey to the Future
A big thanks to VChan for sharing her stories with us! As a fan who has had the opportunity to witness this unique and spectacular period of Patrick’s competitive skating journey, I am so grateful that he is committed to staying until the very end in Pyeongchang. Perhaps, we will also hear him say afterwards, “Now we rest and then tomorrow we go to Calgary.”
Godspeed, Patrick Chan!