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Chan inspired by Elvis

When season went bad, Canadian champ got advice from Stojko

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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- When Patrick Chan's season was sagging a few weeks ago, he sought advice from a man who might seem to some an unlikely source -- Elvis Stojko.

The two skaters, plus fellow world champions Kurt Browning and Jeff Buttle, toured Ontario in December as part of "Celebration on Ice."

Chan and Stojko bonded during bus rides and breakfasts -- their verbal battle at the Vancouver Olympics long forgotten.

"Initially when I saw (Stojko), it was a bit like 'I don't know how he's going to react,' " Chan said Thursday on the eve of the Canadian figure skating championships.

"We didn't even talk about (Vancouver), which is good. Because he could kill me in an instant. He's like karate master," Chan added laughing. "I'd better be nice, better not mess with him."

Stojko, a three-time world champion, levelled some verbal shots at Chan three years ago in Vancouver in a scathing Yahoo! column that ran under the headline "The night they killed figure skating." Stojko was angry at the judges that gave Evan Lysacek gold and Chan fifth, despite the fact neither had attempted a quad jump in their programs. He felt the skaters were taking the sport backward.

"The International Skating Union has taken the risk out of figure skating and it makes me sick," Stojko wrote.

"There was never an awkward moment with Patrick," Stojko said from his Mexico home where he lives with his wife Gladys Orozco, also a skater. "People know me as someone that will speak how I feel, I'll be very honest that way, but then they can just come up and talk to me. I don't walk around with a grudge, I just say things how they are unemotionally: boom boom boom.

"That's like when I wrote the column: boom boom boom. Wake up and smell the coffee if you want things to grow.

"That's the thing Pat understood too, he saw me and it was like, 'Hey man how's it going?' It was great."

The 22-year-old Chan added a quad jump to his repertoire the season after Vancouver, and has since won back-to-back world titles.

But he's in the midst of an off year, finishing second at Skate Canada -- his first major international loss in a year and a half -- and then third at the Grand Prix Final.

He sought Stojko's advice on how he prepares to compete, because competing was one of Stojko's strengths. Chan, who will be aiming for his sixth Canadian title this week at the Hershey Centre, is known for going all-out in the practice sessions at competitions.

"I told (Chan) 'Just pace yourself, you want to be hungry by the end of the week, you want your body to be hungry to compete. Not: Oh god, I have to put my skates on again and do this again,' " Stojko said. "It's not just the style of skating, it's the style of how you prepare, and that's sort of the next stage for him, to understand that."

When they parted after the four-city trip, Stojko gave Chan his phone number.

"I said if your brain is ever going AWOL, just call me," Stojko said. "Even if you're training and you want me to come up, not to help with technical stuff but just your brain and that, I'm willing to do that too, just let me know and I'll be there."

Chan looked tanned and relaxed Thursday following a Christmas vacation in Hawaii, and laughed when he recalled the previous night's taping of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.

In one funny segment, Stroumboulopoulos held up photos of skaters in particularly extravagant costumes, and asked Chan: "Would you wear this or not?" There was Evgeni Plushenko's "Sex Bomb" costume, Philippe Candeloro's "Pirates of the Caribbean" costume, and Johnny Weir's feathery swan costume.

Would he wear Weir's costume?

"What do you think? Obviously not!" Chan said laughing.

Chan will skate his short program Friday and the free program Saturday.

The Canadian championship helps determine the team for the world championships in March in London, Ont.

-- The Canadian Press

TV schedule

Today: Women's and Pair Short Programs -- 2 p.m., TSN

Today: Men's Short Program -- 7 p.m., TSN

Saturday: Ice Dance Short Dance -- 1 p.m., CTV

Saturday: Pair and Men's Free Programs -- 4 p.m., TSN

Saturday: Men's Free Programs -- 7 p.m., CTV

Sunday: Women's Free Program and Ice Dance Free Dance -- 3 p.m., TSN

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2013 C6

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