Nathan Chen carves up ice in quest for 2018 Olympics
Nathan Chen is having a good 2017.
The 17-year-old figure skater from Salt Lake City, Utah, is being hailed as the new king of US skating after winning two major men's titles - the US Figure Skating Championships in January and the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in February.
Both performances will be taken into consideration for a potential spot on the US figure skating team for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Chen (unrelated to Karen Chen, photo at left) came back from the Four Continents competition-in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, where the Winter Olympics will be held-scoring 307.46 points and getting first place. He held off the presumed favorite, Yuzuru Hanyu, a 2014 Olympic champion from Japan.
"It was really awesome. I'm super glad with the way things went," Chen said. "I came into the event not really expecting to win, honestly. I was ranked behind [Yuzuru] and to pull out like that was definitely a huge confidence booster for me."
Chen became the first male skater to land five quadruple jumps in a single performance at an International Skating Union championship to win the Four Continents competition.
He gave credit to Chinese figure skater Jin Boyang for inspiring his quadruple jumps.
"When I was a younger skater and was competing against him, I didn't have any quads at that point, and I barely had a triple axel," he said.
To compete against Jin, "who wasn't much older than I was, who had three quads in a long program, was completely absurd to me," Chen said. "It made me realize how far behind I was, and I guess US figure skating as a whole."
Chen is deep in training now for the World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland, from March 29 through April 2.
It will be the first time for him in that event, though he went to Finland earlier this season for a smaller international competition.
When he's not training in Lakewood, California, Chen is being home-schooled. He will graduate from high school in four months,and plans to take a gap year before college to focus on trying out for the Olympic team.
"It would be a dream come true to make it to the Olympics," he said. "It's something that I strived for my whole life, and it's something I'm really excited for, and something I can imagine myself doing, so it's just making sure that I take the right steps to get there and make it happen."
Chen will begin applying to college at the end of the year. He would like to attend the University of California-Irvine, closest to where he's training now.
"School to me and my family is very, very important - getting a very strong education. All of my siblings excel at their academics, and it's something that I want to follow suit on," he said.
Chen said he tries not to worry about decisions that he won't have to make for several years. For now, he just wants to focus on skating well, getting through high school and being a normal teenager.
"There are times when I'm like, 'I wish I had the time to do this, I wish I had the time to do that,'" he said.
"But at the same time, I have a whole bunch of opportunities to do things that kids my age typically can't do. To be able to do that kind of balances it out, and I'm not very upset about the way things turned out."
Nathan Chen became the first male skater to land five quadruple jumps in a single performance at the Four Continents competition in South Korea in February. Provided To China Daily
(China Daily USA 03/24/2017 page11)