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Chan needed time to get over Sochi disappointment; future plans uncertain

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TORONTO - Canadian figure skater Patrick Chan still hasn't watched the tape of his performance at the Sochi Olympics.

He's not planning to any time soon either.

Chan had a glorious opportunity to become Canada's first Olympic men's figure skating champion last February, but struggled in his free skate and settled for silver behind Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu.

"It took me some time at the Games to get over the disappointment of being so close, yet so far," Chan said. "I had a couple reminders when I was on tour in Japan skating with Yuzuru in the shows. That didn't help either. So I think the last thing I want do is look back at the programs even though some things were great.

"Knowing me, I'm a perfectionist, I'll just pick on the bad stuff. It will eat away at me. For me, the best way to cope with how I did is just look at those two medals I got and look at them as two great silver medals. Silver medals that a lot of people dream to have and then move on. Move on by sharing it with Canada, sharing it with people here. That helps me cope with that bit of a disappointment."

Chan, who also helped Canada finish second in the inaugural team event, did not try to win a fourth straight world title this year. He skipped the event in Japan and Hanyu took gold there as well.

The Toronto figure skater's future remains unclear.

He has yet to decide whether he's up for another four-year cycle ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. Chan does plan to skip a few competitions next season and will wait until the fall before making a decision on the nationals and world championships.

"I'm going to take a bit of a break from the Grand Prix season," Chan said. "I've done it so many years, I think I deserve a bit of a break from it. Just take that opportunity to catch up with friends that I haven't had a chance to and play some hockey or go do things that I've always wanted to do and just haven't had the chance.

"I think that will help me find that motivation again to come back. Just so I feel like I'm not missing out on some stuff that I've wanted to do since my childhood."

Chan, looking relaxed and happy at a promotional event Thursday in his hometown, enjoyed some vacation time after the season ended. He's looking forward to playing some golf over the next few months and taking part in activities that he normally doesn't get to do because of his training schedule.

The 23-year-old will continue to skate through the summer, just not at his usual high intensity. If he decides to return for the Canadian championships, he estimates that he'd need about two months to get back to top form.

"That's another thing to consider," he said. "It's not something I can just show up at in January and hope that I skate well and win another title. It's something that I have to really prepare and I'd want to prepare properly so I'd have to take time out of the fall to start training for that."

The nationals will be held Jan. 17-25 at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ont. Shanghai will host the March 23-29 world championship.

By Chan's preparation timeline, he would need to make a choice by mid-November. It's a decision that he's comfortable putting off until the fall.

"I'll just start stressing a lot more on it so I try to not even think about it for the moment," he said. "If I'm committing to the next four years to the next Games, then I want to take at least one year for myself to not stress and just take a breath and really plan my life just by what I want to do, not what people tell me to do."

The seven-time national champion finished fifth in his Olympic debut in Vancouver in 2010. After settling for silver four years later, he found that watching other athletes succeed at the Games lifted his spirits.

"I kind of lived through them," he said. "That really helped me settle my thoughts and settle my nerves and I guess my frustration."

When he returned to Canada, he had a hard time getting a good night's sleep for the first week he was back. He would often replay parts of the performance in his mind.

"Sometimes I'd be laying in bed and not being able to sleep and I'd just start thinking about how things could have been different," he said. "Now I just sleep no problem. I mean it's just no issue because there's no point in dwelling in the past to be honest. It's absolutely true to look ahead and look at the opportunities that I have coming up.

"I'm just too busy now to even think about what happened. Now I'm just using the medals as a tool to open up opportunities ahead of me."

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

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