After a Stunning Performance, Nathan Chen Has Claimed His First Olympic Gold Medal
Chen made himself known even to the world beyond figure-skating fans in 2010, when he became, at 10, the youngest men’s novice champion in U.S. figure-skating history and told reporters that he figured he’d be ready for the Olympics in 2018. He was there then but not quite ready. On Wednesday night, however, skating last (and to an Elton John medley he used last season for his exhibition music), he landed five clean quads to earn the gold medal—with a combined score of 332.60.
Eighteen-year-old Yuma Kagiyama, the reigning Japanese bronze medalist and world silver medalist, skated a charming and confident short program that put him in second place; his free skate was more cautious but able to hold that spot in the free skate. He had already scored a personal best of 208.94 in the long program at the team event, helping him earn a bronze medal for Japan.
Jason Brown’s assignment in Beijing caused some controversy; he finished fourth at U.S. Nationals last month but was named to the Olympic team instead of silver medalist Ilia Malinin on the basis of his body of work. Brown is often criticized for not doing quads; he has been working on a quad Salchow but has had only one ratified (at the French Grand Prix last fall, although the landing was two-footed). He has always compensated for the relative lack of technical content in his programs by loading them with difficult footwork, jump entrances, and spins, and his artistic scores have usually justified that strategy. This season he repeated two past programs: “Sinnerman,” choreographed by Rohene Ward to Nina Simone, for the short program, and “Schindler’s List,” choreographed by David Wilson, for the free skate.
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