Nathan Chen Storms to Gold Medal; Yuma Kagiyama Claims Silver, Shoma Uno Bronze
Two-time defending Olympic champ Yuzuru Hanyu, who stumbled twice in his free skate, held the lead until the final three skaters.
Four years after his meltdown in Pyeongchang, there was major redemption for Nathan Chen in Beijing on Thursday afternoon, February 10. The 22-year-old American dominated with a clinical free skate at Capital Indoor Stadium to capture the Olympic gold medal in decisive fashion.
Chen’s winning tally was 332.60 points, easily outdistancing Yuma Kagiyama, who brought home the silver with 310.05, and Shoma Uno, who took the bronze at 293.00.
Chen’s victory marked the first singles gold for an American man since Evan Lysacek’s victory at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
The 2-3 finish by Kagiyama and Uno gave Japan two medals for the second straight Olympics, after Yuzuru Hanyu and Uno took gold and silver in South Korea in 2018.
Two-time Olympic champion Hanyu came in fourth with 283.21, while South Korea’s Jun Hwan Cha was fifth on 282.38. Despite falling twice in his free skate to “Heaven and Earth,” Hanyu held the lead until the final three skaters.
Chen landed five clean quadruple jumps and four triples in his skate to “Rocketman.” The Utah native earned level fours on two of his spins and step sequence. His lone miscue came in the second half of his program when he singled a planned triple axel at the end of a three-combination jump.
The three-time world titlist opened with a huge quad flip/triple toe combo, followed by a quad flip and a quad salchow. He went on to land a quad lutz, quad toe loop and three more triples.
“Of course, there are certainly many things I could have done better, but overall I was very happy I was able to do the program that I put down,” Chen stated. “It means the world. I’m just so happy.”
Chen admitted that he was overwhelmed by everything that just happened to him.
“It’s a whirlwind right now,” Chen commented. “I had a blast out there.”
Chen, a student at Yale University, confessed that he doubted he would ever come this far.
“I never really felt that I would be able to make it this far in my career,” Chen said. “I had always of course dreamed about making the Olympics and winning the Olympics, but I thought, ‘That’s hard, I don’t know if I can make that happen.' ”
Chen became the seventh American man to win the Olympic gold after Dick Button (1948, 1952), Hayes Jenkins (1956), David Jenkins (1960), Scott Hamilton (1984), Brian Boitano (1988) and Lysacek (2010).
Kagiyama Shines on Global Stage
Kagiyama was sublime in his performance to “Gladiator,” hitting three clean quads and coming up a quarter short on another, while also landing four triples. He received level fours on his spins and step sequence.
The 18-year-old from Yokohama opened with a quad salchow, then came up just short on a quad loop. He then executed a quad toe loop and triple axel/double toe combo, before going on to land another quad toe loop.
“I am just simply very happy. This silver medal, ever since I started skating, I have been dreaming about it,” Kagiyama, the 2020 Youth Olympic champion, remarked. “Many years of my hard work is condensed here in this silver medal. I feel like I have grown.
“There were some small errors today,” Kagiyama added. “But I think I gave 100 percent of what I had. I think I proved that I grew to some extent.”
Uno Already Focusing on Next Challenge
Uno landed three clean quads, was a quarter under on another, and fell on one (a quad flip) in his skate to “Bolero.” The 24-year-old posted level fours on his spins and step sequence.
“Being able to have this bronze medal makes me very happy,” Uno commented. “If I had another chance, I would probably finish the same way.”
Uno graciously praised Chen for his performance in victory.
“It was a good experience,” Uno noted. “I believe it will lead to greater ones. With these experiences, I will be able to perform the beautiful program Nathan Chen did.”
Uno said he is already looking ahead to new challenges.
“Rather than having regrets, I am focusing on how to improve from now on, how to perfect my performance,” Uno stated. “I failed in the second and third jump, I guess I did get nervous. But I thought I must do as much as I can in the second half.
“I have the world championships coming,” Uno continued. “I believe I will deliver an even better program then.”
Jump Troubles Hurt Hanyu’s Medal Chances
Hanyu finished third in the free skate, despite going down on his opening quad axel and the subsequent quad salchow. The superstar recovered and fought the rest of the way, however, landing a big quad toe loop/triple toe loop combo and a nice quad toe loop/single euler/triple salchow combination.
Finishing just under 10 points behind Uno, Hanyu could have earned a third Olympic medal if he had been able to land his first two jumps. But it wasn’t meant to be this day.
Hanyu’s miss on his opening quad salchow in the short program on Tuesday doomed his chances to equal Gillis Grafstrom’s record with a third straight Olympic gold. Grafstrom topped the podium in 1920, 1924 and 1928.
Hanyu Reflect on Beijing Results
Hanyu seemed to have no regrets about pursuing the quad axel, when he could have easily settled for his patented triple axel.
“I think I am pushing the boundary today,” Hanyu remarked. “No matter how hard, no matter how unimaginable, I want to push a little bit more for those who have expectations in me.”
Hanyu reflected on coming up short in his bid to become the first skater to land the quad axel in competition.
“I do the quad axel much better now,” Hanyu noted. “I failed to realize my dream of completing it in this Olympics, but I have worked really hard for it.”
Hanyu admitted that he could have taken an easier path with his free skate.
“It was a hard time for me on the ice,” Hanyu stated. “If I’m not doing the quad axel, I could have done a better combo. But that attempt (quad axel) was my pride. It’s going to make me more complete.”
Hanyu concluded by saying, “Pressure gets me more energy for skating.”
- [ICE TIME] Grafstrom’s Family Wishes Hanyu the Best in Quest to Equal Legend's Third Olympic Gold
- [ICE TIME] Yuzuru Hanyu Chasing Immortality with Quad Axel, Third Olympic Gold Medal
Author: Jack Gallagher