Already off to a good start for a second Olympic team, Nathan Chen has now positioned himself well on the path to a sixth national title by winning the short program at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Chen broke his own 2020 event record of 114.13 with a short program score of 115.39 on Saturday afternoon in Nashville.
And we had to go back to an old program to do it.
The three-time world champion hit the headlines at the start of that 2021-22 Olympic season when his undefeated three-year streak ended at Skate America. He was fourth after the short program and third overall in Las Vegas, where he started new programs for the season, including a short at Benjamin Clementine‘s “Eternity” and “Nemesis”.
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He returned to the top step of the podium at Skate Canada the following week to start what will likely be another winning streak, but for this week’s nationals, Chen returned to his 2019-20 season schedules: a short to Charles Aznavourthe version of “La Bohème” and its acclaimed Elton john medley for free.
“I’m really happy with these shows, and that’s why it’s great that I can have such amazing choreographers consistently giving me great shows, so it’s easy to be able to go back and go through all the work that I have. ‘she did with me, ”Chen said, referring to Shae-Lynn Bourne, who choreographed his program “La Bohème”. “It was an area that I was very close to and attached to, so this was the best opportunity to try it again.”
So far, Chen has not specified what programs he plans to use for the Beijing Winter Olympics in less than a month.
Nailing his jumps – which on Saturday included a quadruple flip, triple axel, quad lutz-triple toe combo – didn’t hurt either when trying to restart that streak.
“The lutz has been a bit difficult for me this season so I’m happy I was able to pull it off,” Chen said. Andrea Joyce during the broadcast.
If Chen continues this success in Sunday’s free skate, it will mark his sixth U.S. title, joining just three other men – Roger Turner, Dick Button, Todd Eldredge – achieve the feat and make him the first in 70 years to do so consecutively.
2018 Olympian Companion Vincent zhou gives it a run for its money, however.
The 2019 world bronze medalist set a new personal best five points with his score of 112.78 at Josh groban‘s “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)”, which he kept from last season.
Zhou, who less than a year ago was 25th at the world championships and failed even to qualify for free skating, has won a medal in all four competitions this season, including a victory at Skate America. .
The margin of 2.61 points between the first and the second is particularly narrow. Chen led after the short program for all of his US championship wins, but his margins on the second skater previously ranged from 6.13 to 17.72 points.
“It’s amazing that you can have such strong American competitors, especially heading into the Olympics, and knowing whoever is in, we’re going to have a really strong team there,” Chen said.
Also note the athlete currently in a position to win the bronze medal: Ilia Malinin. The 2019 US rookie bronze medalist has not competed at a US championship since due to injury.
At just 17, he erased his personal best of 13.7 for a score of 103.46 points.
Jason brown, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist in the team event who, for much of this Olympic quad, is expected to take third place in the U.S. Olympic in the United States with Chen and Zhou, is close behind in fourth at 100.84 points for his “Sinnerman” program.
Brown arrived in Nashville less than 24 hours before the men’s competition, after a hectic 33 hours of travel that included five canceled flights, four airline changes, three airports, two countries, one night in Atlanta and a rental car.
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Nathan Chen returns to old schedule, sets new record, leads US champions originally appeared on NBCSports.com