By Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Patrick Chan's new coach has said that the Canadian figure skater had fallen in love with his sport again after relocating to his homeland to train for his third and final Olympic Games.
The 27-year-old parted ways with Marina Zoueva, with whom he trained in the United States, just weeks before the Pyeongchang Olympics and returned to Canada to work with Canadian coach Ravi Walia.
Chan, who plans to retire after the Games, said on Tuesday that his bold relocation and coaching shake-up were designed to put him in a mentally satisfied state as he neared the end of his competitive career.
"I think that he was struggling, kind of dreading going to the rink everyday," Walia told Reuters after Chan's morning practice on Wednesday.
"I think moving back to Canada gave him a change of scenery and I think he just fell in love with skating. I didn't expect that."
The turning point for Chan came at the Skate Canada International event last October, where he finished a disappointing fourth.
The triple world champion said he had been "uncomfortable and unhappy" at that event and that he needed a change.
Walia, who also coaches Canadian women's medal hope Kaetlyn Osmond, said Chan had come to enjoy his training process, approaching it like a job that needed to be done.
"I think the last two Games he had a lot of pressure on him," Walia said. "I think that it's a priority for him to skate for himself, with that freedom to enjoy it. Because I don't think he had that. It's kind of like ending on his own terms."
Chan, who finished fifth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, clinched silver behind Japan's Yuzuyu Hanyu in Sochi four years ago, where he had been favoured to win.
"He's put the work in and now he can enjoy it," Walia said. "That's the main thing. I want to see him have the Olympic moment that he didn't have before."
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber)