Nathan Chen begins four-month journey to figure skating gold

For figure skater Nathan Chen, America’s top prospect for a gold medal in the most popular Olympic winter sport, a four-year trip comes down to the next four months.

Will he fulfill in Beijing the promise made to him in 2018, that his prodigious talent and impeccable athleticism would lead him to an Olympic gold medal? Or will he once again be denied the only title he does not have, that of Olympic champion?

Her quest begins Friday night at Skate America in Las Vegas, the first major international skating competition of the Olympic season. He will finish in the men’s long program of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games on February 10.

That’s when Chen, 22, will know. Does America’s Greatest Skater of a Generation Join Dick Button, Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano as Olympic Gold Medalist? Or is it not?

“I’ve always dreamed of being able to win a national title, a world title, an Olympic title,” Chen said earlier this year. “Easier said than done. I thought I had a chance in 2018 and it didn’t happen and I’m able to live with it.

“Of course, I wish I could win the next Olympics, but if that doesn’t happen, it’s not like my legacy or who I am is ultimately diminished. I am always happy with everything I have done. I am proud of everything I have already accomplished in skating. I would always like to improve and be better, but honestly I’m really happy where I am and what I’ve done before, so whether or not I get that title at the Olympics is not going to define me. as a person . “

Almost four years ago, Chen was one of the favorites for gold at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea at the age of 18 when he collapsed in the men’s short program, finishing in 17th place. With no chance of winning a medal, the weight of the world lifted on his shoulders, he won the long program and finished fifth overall.

How important was this moment? Chen hasn’t lost a competition since. World Championships, National Championships, Grand Prix events – Chen is undefeated since Pyeongchang, a remarkable achievement in any sport at any given time, but especially right now in men’s skating, the most athletically competitive era in the history of a sport where four revolutions the jumps are posed on a shard of steel blade, on the ice of course.

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Chen, who is on leave from Yale, where he is majoring in statistics and data science, said his poor performance in the short program at the 2018 Olympics taught him a valuable lesson.

“Being able to have the opportunity to have such a difficult skate at the previous Olympics gave me the idea to realize that skating, when it’s incredibly important and the thing that I have literally done every day of my life. life since I was three. , it’s also something that’s just a passionate project for me, ”Chen said earlier this week.

“It all sounds like I don’t necessarily care so much about skating, but skating is important and that’s what I did and that’s what my life has been, but there is a life outside of skating and at some point in the near future I will have to retire from skating I will not be able to skate for the rest of my life.

So what does this mean for this crucial 2021-2022 Olympic season?

“I think I realized that every competition is a great opportunity for me to show the work that I have done and to know that I have a limited number of competitions in my life and to really get the most out of each competition and j ‘try to have fun as best I can,’ he said.

“I find that when I’m somehow able to embrace that ideal, I’m able to skate a lot better or at least put myself in a position where I feel a lot more relaxed and I continue to enjoy it more than I do. to worry about. what will be the result.

A result that will come quickly now, as sure as autumn turns into winter and a new year is dawning. Before we know it, February 10 will be here, waiting for him.

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