Nathan Chen had to wait four long years for his Olympic redemption, but on Thursday in Beijing, he left nothing to chance and won the first gold medal of his already storied career.
For just over four minutes at Capital Indoor Stadium during Thursday’s free skate, which was set to a medley of music from the Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” Chen — the final skater to take the ice — dazzled with his combination of poise and precision, landing all five of his quadruple jumps and finishing his performance with an emphatic finger point toward the crowd.
Chen later said he knew in that moment he had likely secured the top spot on the podium.
“After I finished the last jump, I thought I was pretty much close [to guaranteeing gold],” Chen said in an interview on NBC. “I was keeping track of what was going on, so I kind of had an idea … Overall [I was] just so happy.”
The 22-year-old American has been one of the most dominant figure skaters on the scene for the past several years, with three world championships and six national titles, but he had been unable to deliver on the hype during the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. Two mistake-riddled short programs, in the individual and team events, proved costly. He won a bronze medal with the U.S. team but finished a disappointing fifth place in the men’s singles competition.
But for Chen, these Olympics have been different. He had the top score in the short program during the team event, in which the Americans won a best-ever silver medal, and showed no signs of residual nerve or fear. And his performance in Tuesday’s short program during the individual event was even better. Chen earned the highest short program score in history with a 113.97.
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SOURCE: ESPN, D’Arcy Maine