Salt Lake City’s Nathan Chen will join U.S. Olympic figure skating team

Nathan Chen, shown here during the Rostelecom Cup in October, will lead Team USA at next month's Olympic Games. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE

SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 7, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City’s Nathan Chen will be joining the 2018 U.S. Olympic men’s figure skating team, it was announced Sunday morning, after he won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships for the second time.

Skating to music from “Mao’s Last Dancer” in his free skate at the Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif., Chen hit five quadruple jumps, including two in combination, according to a news release from Team USA.

The 18-year-old scored 315.23 points to win by 40.72 points and matched his quad output from 2017, when he became the first man to perform five quads in a program, the news release said.

Chen is the first male skater to win two national titles in a row since Jeremy Abbott in 2009-2010.

Last year he set a U.S. record with 318.47 points for a 55.44-point margin of victory.

The 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Figure Skating Team is comprised of three men all making their Olympic debuts, it was announced Sunday morning.

Chen, Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou will represent Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 next month.

The men were selected based on their performance at a list of events, which was separated into three tiers, from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Chen and Zhou won gold and bronze, respectively, at the SAP Center Saturday night, while Rippon was fourth.

Chen won his first national title at age 10, as a novice, and now owns six golds at the event –- two as a novice, two as a junior and two as a senior. At his second senior U.S. championships in 2016, Chen became the first American to land two quadruple jumps in his short program and the first to land four in his long. He won bronze that year.

The next year he became the first skater of any nation to land five quads in one program. Often dubbed the “quad king,” Chen now has five different quads in his repertoire. Last season, he became the youngest American man to earn a grand prix medal when he took silver at NHK Trophy, and then he was the second youngest man of any country to medal the Grand Prix Final.

In addition to figure skating, Chen trained in ballet with Ballet West Academy and competed in gymnastics at the state and regional levels for seven years. He attended West High School in Salt Lake City.

Chen still remembers watching the 2002 Salt Lake City Games when he wasn’t yet three years old.

“It’s been a really fun journey since 2002 where I started,” Chen is quoted in the news release as saying. “This is definitely where I wanted to be. This is all I dreamed of, I’m happy I took the right steps.

“It’s all happening so fast, it seems like just yesterday I first stepped on the ice, I still need time to wrap my head around it, but I’m happy with everything that’s happening.”


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