The Winter Olympics are at all times sports activities’ most unusual occasion. For probably the most half, it’s a set of area of interest sports activities getting worldwide consideration . Exceptions have existed with males’s ice hockey, with 5 straight Olympiads permitting the NHL’s stars to take part for his or her international locations, final happening on the 2014 Sochi video games. Bear in mind the shootout towards Russia the place TJ Oshie’s efficiency launched him into tremendous stardom? Or the 2010 Vancouver remaining between the USA and Canada that felt like an All-Star sport, however everybody really tried in one of many best hockey video games I’ve ever seen?
Different exemptions have been given to people like Michelle Kwan, Scott Hamilton, Mikaela Shiffrin, Apolo Ohno, Shaun White. If he wasn’t on that solely subjective listing earlier than late Monday evening in America, Nathan Chen must be on it now. In Beijing, Chen has slayed no matter lingering demons have been left over from his Olympic debut in PyeongChang, the place he fell within the brief program within the workforce and particular person occasions.
Chen scored a world-record 113.97 factors within the particular person males’s brief program, a efficiency which included a triple axel and two quadruple jumps, on Tuesday in China, enhancing from his already-stellar efficiency within the workforce competitors final Friday, the place his short-program heroics helped the USA to a silver medal. Chen entered the Olympics because the heavy favourite to win gold and has lived as much as the hype to this point. He took his new world file from Yuzuru Hanyu, who received gold in males’s singles in Sochi and PyeongChang, and scored a 111.82 on the 4 Continents Championships in February 2020.
Chen is just 22 and received’t have fun one other birthday till the primary week of Might. Ever since his self-described “disastrous” outings 4 years in the past, he’s a three-time world champion. The 2020 version wasn’t held because of the pandemic, making him the undisputed males’s singles world champion in between the twenty third and twenty fourth Olympiads. He’s additionally the three-time defending champion in males’s singles on the Grand Prix Last, relationship again to December 2017, with the final two occasions being canceled attributable to COVID-19.
His dominance continues effectively past worldwide occasions. Competing individually, Chen has received 21 of 27 occasions relationship again to September 2017. That consistency, figuring out the lineup of challengers he’s had is batshit loopy. His solely non-top-three end throughout that span was a fifth-place mark on the 2018 Olympics. A Seventeenth-place end within the brief program after a fall mixed with first within the free skate couldn’t get him onto the rostrum. 4 years later, he’s probably one clear routine away from a gold medal.
I might preserve throwing truth after truth at you, like that Chen is the primary to have efficiently accomplished 5 varieties of quadruple jumps in competitors, to drive dwelling how he’s dominated this sport and deserves each ounce of recognition that comes from the Olympic highlight. He’ll in all probability develop into the primary American to win gold in males’s singles since Evan Lysacek stood atop the rostrum in 2010. Earlier than him, it was Brian Boitano in 1988 in Calgary. No American has received back-to-back gold medals within the occasion since Dick Button in 1948 and 1952, the primary of 4 straight golds within the self-discipline received by Individuals.
Late Wednesday evening (in the USA) is when the Salt Lake Metropolis native will get his alternative to formally put the nightmare from PyeongChang to relaxation together with his free skate efficiency. The one hurdles separating Chen from what seems like inevitability are a pair of Japanese skaters that aren’t Hanyu, who’s quest for a three-peat is actually carried out, after a fall within the brief program put him in eighth with half the competitors over. Three straight Olympic golds has solely been carried out as soon as, by Sweden’s Gillis Grafström from 1920-28.
Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno are in second and third respectively, with Kagiyama sitting practically six factors again of first place, making Chen’s solely true hurdle to a first-place end himself. In fact, it’s not assured. It’s insanely arduous to return to another conclusion than The Star-Spangled Banner being performed Thursday at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing. Chen’s redemption is almost full. And with the anticipated end result coming to fruition, he might begin out on one other journey past being appointment tv — being thought of the best American male determine skater in historical past.