BEIJING, China — Figure skater Nathan Chen has won gold, joining an exclusive club of U.S. Olympic champions in the sport and capping a four-year journey that started after his medal hopes were dashed at the Pyeongchang Games.
The 22-year-old’s win in Beijing will make him the seventh U.S. men’s skater to step atop the podium. Chen delivered a rousing performance of his “Rocketman” free skate, drawing cheers from the limited crowd of spectators.
Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno won silver and bronze, respectively.
In Pyeongchang, Chen was taken out of medal contention after delivering what he called a “disastrous” short program. Afterward, he worked relentlessly with coach Rafael Arutyunyan to strengthen every aspect of his figure skating. His path back to the Olympics included three straight world titles and his sixth national championship.
Then earlier this week, Chen vindicated his disappointing performance from four years ago with a record-shattering short skate that put him nearly 6 points ahead of his next closest challenger.
Long-time rival Yuzuru Hanyu, the two-time defending Olympic champion from Japan, came into the free skate with a deficit so great that not even his planned quad axel in the free skate – which he missed – would’ve made up for it. He finished in TKTK place after falling in his attempt to become the first figure skater to land the quad axel in competition.
It might not be the last gold medal Chen takes home, either.
The Americans, who earned silver behind Russia in the team event Monday, were awaiting confirmation from the IOC and International Skating Union that “legal issues” holding up the medal ceremony were related to reports of doping linked to their biggest star, Kamila Valieva. That could ultimately elevate the U.S. to the top step of the podium.
American Vincent Zhou, who competed with Chen in the team event, withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19.