Nathan Chen wins figure skating gold at 2022 Beijing Olympics
Chen landed five quadruple flip jumps in his free skate, earning a score of 218.63. With a combined score of 332.60, it all added up to gold.
Nathan Chen is golden.
In Chen’s four-minute free skate program in Beijing, set to “Rocket Man” by Elton John, he landed five quadruple flip jumps, including a quad lutz — the most difficult jump in figure skating.
A score of 218.63 in the free skate, and a combined score of 332.60, all added up to gold for the Salt Lake City-born figure skater.
“It’s just a whirlwind right now. Everything’s happening so fast, but I’m so happy,” Chen told NBC after winning the gold medal.
Chen, who skated last in the event, was keeping track of scores backstage before he went on the ice. The pressure of the moment was palpable. Many of Chen’s competitors, like South Korea’s Cha Jun-hwan and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno, fell while attempting jumps.
If Chen was feeling any nerves before or during his performance, he didn’t show it, and he delivered the USA’s third gold medal of the 2022 Games.
Olympic Champion behavior. 😤#WinterOlympics pic.twitter.com/4rp8oOplpd— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 10, 2022
After his world record-setting short program on Monday, Chen pumped his fist after he finished. On Wednesday, his reaction was one of complete relief.
Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama won the silver medal with a combined score of 310.05 and Uno took bronze with a combined score of 293.00.
It was redemption for Chen, who at the 2018 Games finished 17th in the short program before vaulting to fifth place after the free skate, but still off podium position.
Failing on the world’s biggest stage turned out to be a valuable learning experience.
In the days between the short program and the free skate at the 2018 Olympics, Chen changed his mindset and approach.
Because he was out of medal contention, he was able to skate freely in the free skate, no longer worried about winning a medal. He focused on the technical aspects of his skate, feeling and listening to the music, keeping his mind clear and focusing on the present moment. He excelled in the free skate, scoring a 215.08.
Before the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, Chen, then 18-years-old, put pressure on himself to win gold, and it was part of what led to the uncharacteristic mistakes he made in the short program, falling on two jumps.
That free skate in Pyeongchang changed his mindset, which changed his skating, which led him to this moment — breaking world records and winning a gold medal in perhaps the most dominant Olympic figure skating performance of all time.
Knowing that he failed with millions watching worldwide, and it wasn’t the end of the world, was a weight lifted off of him. He also worked with a sports psychologist.
“Although it is an extremely meaningful event, at the end of the day, whether you win, whether you lose, you’re going to still go home and see your same friends and family, you’re still going to do the same activities,” Chen said.
With his new mindset, Chen took his personal skating — and figure skating as a whole — to the next level.
He won every contest he entered — 18 in total — but one. He won three world championships and capped it all off with a sixth consecutive title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January.
Quad by quad, he pushed skating to a new level.
But the question in the back of everyone’s mind was, could he do it on the biggest stage in the world.
Yes, Chen delivered.
It started with his individual short program, when he recorded the highest-ever score figure skating has ever seen — 113.97. The performance was virtually flawless as he skated with fire and intensity in his eyes, nailing both of his quadruple flips.
He sealed the deal with his free skate.
The ghosts of 2018 are gone.
He grew up skating on a rink used at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. And now, Chen is an Olympic gold medalist.