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Chen marches toward Olympics, with stop in Lake Placid

November 8, 2017
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Nathan Chen wowed the skating world by landing a record five quad jumps on his way to winning the national championship in January. He will continue his push toward the Olympic Games at the Skate America Grand Prix event Nov. 24-26 in Lake Placid.

"It gave me confidence knowing that I was capable of doing what I did under pressure," said Chen about his National championships performance.

In Lake Placid, Chen will put his superb jumping ability on display as he competes against another quad-jumping star: Worlds bronze medalist Boyang Jin of China. Chen will also compete alongside fellow Team USA skaters, including 2015 national champion Jason Brown, 2013 national silver medalist Ross Miner and 2016 national champion Adam Rippon.

Article Photos


Nathan Chen competes at the 2017 US Figure Skating Championships in Kansas City, Missouri.
Photo — Leah Adams/Wikipedia Commons

Chen, a Salt Lake City native, has almost certainly had a taste for the Olympics since they rolled through Salt Lake City in 2002, and will now be one of the top contenders in the men's figure skating competition.

"There's a lot of skaters that I look up to, and I think my biggest skating role models were the two Russian competitors - gold medalist Alexei Yagudin and silver medalist Evgeni Plushenko - at the 2002 Olympic games in Salt Lake City," Chen told the Deseret News. "They really motivated me to follow my passion in skating, and it really blossomed from there."

Chen has certainly emulated the success of those two athletes, starting the 2017-2018 Olympic season strong with a win at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in late October. So strong, in fact, that he bested the current world champion, Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan.

In Moscow, Chen started both his short and long programs with the most difficult combination ump seen in figure skating - a quad lutz followed by a triple toe loop - which earned him nearly 20 points each time. He landed a total of four quad jumps in the free skate.

"I'm very happy with (my performance in) Russia as well. There was definitely a lot of room for improvement, but it was a good step in the right direction."

Chen hopes to continue the strong performances this season, and knows what must be accomplished to reach his ultimate goal of the Olympic Games.

"My first goal is to make the Olympic team," said Chen. "To do that, I need to stay consistent at the next three events, (Skate America, the Grand Prix Final, and the National Championships) to show that I'm one of the United States' best candidates for the games".

In figure skating, there is a delicate balance between artistry and athleticism. One of the most athletic feats in the sport is the practice and execution of "quad" jumps. Most of the elite mens have at least one quad to perform in competition; Chen routinely has four or five in one program.

The quad jump has been a hot topic in figure skating since 1988, when Kurt Browning landed the first ratified one in that year's World Championships. The "quad" is a classification for jumps in which the skater rotates at least four but less than five revolutions, landing on a single blade.

Quads can greatly contribute to point values. For example, about 40 percent of Chen's total short program score at the Rostelecom Cup was due to three difficult completed jump elements. In the long program, the eight jumps accounted for about 45 percent of his total long program score. The increased possibility of high scores encourages male, and now female, athletes to push the envelope by attempting the quad jumps.

But it's not just a jumping contest, as some have lamented. The skaters do indeed work hard to improve their artistry. For Chen, this meant adding ballet to his training regime this summer to increase the artistic quality of his programs. Skating his short program to 'Nemesis' by Benjamin Clementine and his long program to the soundtrack from 'Mao's Last Dancer', this improved expression was noticeable at the Rostelecom Cup. For Chen, this is a priority.

"I would love to continue showing my development as an artist while staying consistent with my technical elements," said Chen. "I have shown strong technical elements, specifically my ability to do a high number of quads in one program; I would love to show my ability to be a complete skater this season."

Even if you've never had the privilege of watching Chen compete, he has certainly been in the public eye; in the lead up to the Olympics, he has been participating in several media campaigns for companies such as Coca-Cola, Kelloggs, Nike, and Bridgestone Tires.

One thing is apparent; Chen will certainly be in the spotlight leading up to Skate America and the Olympics, and the Skate America event will be an ideal opportunity to see his impressive skating in person. Chen is looking forward to the event and returning to Lake Placid.

"I was there (in Lake Placid) for Junior Nationals many years ago. I remember lots of snow and very pretty scenery. I'm excited to go back!"

For more information on Skate America, visit their website at www.2017skateamerica.com.

 
 

 

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