Saturday, January 9, 2010

Chan's Decision That Makes You Go "Hmmm"... and Others That Make Me See Red

So who woulda thunk there’d be one more twist left in that big dance we all watched last summer known as the coaches’ shuffle?

But yes, sure enough, it appears Patrick Chan and his coach Don Laws have parted ways as the clock ticks both towards Vancouver AND London (where Canadian Nationals begin next week). I say “appears” because it hardly came down like the traditional I-felt-like-I-had-to-make-a-big-change switcheroo…

The basic announcement can be found
here, but the more interesting side can be found over at You can’t miss it; it’s the article bearing the headline Laws Ran, Not Walked, Away From Coaching Chan. In short, here’s what we’ve got:

+ Chan giving a wish-nothing-but-the-best statement with regards to Laws’ accepting a permanent position in Florida, rather than an actual announcement that they’ve split.
+ Laws having to write Skate Canada to inform them he’s no longer coaching Chan.
+ Prior to this, we’re now told (by Laws) that Chan headed to Colorado Springs recently for his training, for reasons that included “altitude training”—though as Laws was quick to point out, Vancouver is at sea level.
+ And wouldn’t you know, all this shuffling started right after Chan’s disappointing 6th place finish at Skate Canada.

It’s not like what Kwan did four months before 2002’s Winter Games, when she parted ways with Frank Carroll and went coach-less into Salt Lake City. Chan has choreographer Lori Nichol and coach Christy Krall (who won the Pieter Kollen Sport Science Coaching award in 2008), and he’s worked with both for a while.

Still, isn’t it all just one of those Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm…?

And one more thing…(this is my last chance to gripe about this before Nationals, so hang on to something as I grab my soapbox)

From maternity leaves to chronic injuries to just plain not-gonna-do-its, this Olympic season has had more than it’s fair share of, shall we say, competitive procrastinators. And frankly, that’s not fair at all.

I know, I know… they’ve all paid their dues in seasons past; we’re talking former and/or current world champions, Olympic medalists who don’t deserve their various adversities any more than other athletes. Can’t we cut them some slack—a “bye” for Euros here (as will likely be granted Delobel/Schoenfelder), a super-generous PCS score there…? After all, if they want to “save their best” for the Olympics, what’s the harm in that?

No harm, I suppose—if it were 1972, when the season didn’t have early and late competitive circuits… and the majority of competitors hadn’t spent their fall globetrotting their way through Grand Prix events. But most don’t have the luxury of staying home for fear of aggravating an injury, or of catching the flu on a long plane ride. They can’t “save their best” for the Olympics because many of them knew there was no guarantee they’d BE at the Olympics. So instead, they competed for all the old-school reasons: face time with the judges… thrill of victory, agony of defeat… the possibility of a paycheck… (OK, so that last one isn’t really old-school as far as ISU events go.)

Put it this way: the only “comeback” I’m happy to support this time around is that of Shen/Zhao, and I think that’s due at least in part to the fact that they’ve actually been competing. Ironically, with Zhao’s ruptured Achilles tendon from 2005, this was the team that bypassed the entire season and just barely returned to training in time for the 2006 Games…

So maybe, deep down, all the competitive procrastinators have been aching to compete with the others all season. Or not. My biggest question is this: of all the competitors Cinquanta could grumble to about pulling out of an event (or never getting assigned in the first place), why did he have to pick Yu-Na Kim-- one of the hardest-working players in the whole ISU game?

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