Nathan Chen has been figure skating for 15 years now, and in that time he’s gone from a young boy whose first pair of skates were hand-me-downs from his sister to a gold medal hopeful for the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics, which began on February 9th.
Chen, who is 18 now, is heading to Pyeongchang a mere month after winning his second national figure skating championship in a row. As if that accolade wasn’t enough, Chen is also the only male figure skater in the world to be heading to the Olympics completely undefeated this season.
“Sometimes thinking about the Olympics makes me a little nervous,” Chen said. “It’s something I have to remind myself about, that at every competition, I put a lot of pressure on myself, almost like it’s the end of the world, and I have to keep reminding myself it’s not. Ultimately, I try to enjoy the moment, and every time I enjoy myself out there, I skate my best when I feel happy and I let those pressures fall down beside me.”
Chen hit the scene around the time of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. While too young to compete at the Olympic level, he was already a 2-time novice champion. By the time the 2014 Games rolled around he was a 2-time junior champion with a few international medals to his name, as well.
Two years ago, Chen won his first Olympic level national medal, taking a bronze in the 2016 U.S. championship. More impressive, though, was the fact that Chen was the first skater on the planet to land two consecutive quadruple jumps in his short routine, and four of them in his long routine. Unfortunately, that same day Chen injured his hip and had to undergo surgery.
After recovering, Chen hit the scene at full speed at the 2017 national championships, where he obliterated his own record and landed five quadruple jumps in a single long program. That same routine earned him the gold at the 2018 nationals and he’s hoping to keep the streak going at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
One thing is for sure–Nathan Chen is someone to watch during the 2018 Games.