American star Nathan Chen skated his way to a long-awaited gold medal on Thursday at the Beijing 2022 Games.
With confidence and composure, the 22-year-old Chen posted a high score of 218.63 in the free skate, building on a record short program earlier this week. Skating to the music of Elton John, Chen put on a masterful performance that included a quad flip and triple toe loop, quad flip and triple axel. Team USA tweeted “Rocket Chen”, a reference to the song, after winning the gold medal.
Chen finished with a total score of 332.60. Yuma Kagiyama from Japan took silver and Shoma Uno, also from Japan, won bronze. It’s just a whirlwind right now,” Chen told NBC’s Andrea Joyce after the win. “Everything is happening very fast, but I am very happy.”
Chen became the first man to take home Olympic figure skating gold for the United States since 2010, when Evan Lysacek won at the Vancouver Games.
Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan’s two-time Olympic gold medalist and defending champion, missed the podium with an overall score of 283.21. Four years ago at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, Chen had been considered a gold medal contender, but suffered a harrowing poor performance in the short program that scuttled his chances.
This time, he set a new world record of 113.97 in the individual short program with a performance that included a quad flip, triple axel and quad lutz-triple toe loop combination.
That score put him in the lead heading into the crucial free skate. Thursday’s winner was determined by the combined scores in the individual short program and the longer free skate.
Chen, from Salt Lake City, Utah, said Tuesday that he was “just elated” to do well. The last Olympics, both short programs didn’t go the way I wanted, and I finally got a chance to skate the program the way I wanted, it feels really great, it means a lot,” she said. Chen has excelled since her disappointing short program in 2018, but she has excelled ever since, including in a free skate in PyeongChang that was dubbed redeemer.
She also won world figure skating championship gold in 2021, 2019 and 2018.