When American figure skater Nathan Chen succeeds, he sets world records (like being the first to land five quads in competition, NBD), but when he falls, he falls hard.
The U.S. champion was poised to compete for gold against Japanese rival Yuzuru Hanyu after Chen’s undefeated season, but things did not go as expected. The 17-year-old skater finished in 17th place in the men’s short program after multiple crashes, bobbles, and stumbles. He fell on his quadruple lutz, stepped out of other jumps, and even had to put his hand on the ice at one point to prevent another crash landing.
Commentator Johnny Weir called it “disastrous,” as Chen was well aware that things did not go smoothly.
“It just was rough; nothing really clicked together,” Chen said to The New York Times. “I did all the right stuff going into it. It should have been different, but stuff happens.”
Thankfully, he’s got a whole support system of Olympic heroes to back him up, and they are not here for people bashing him for one disappointing skate.
His friend and fellow Pyeongchang competitor Karen Chen immediately backed him up, as did two of the greatest skaters of all time, Scott Hamilton and Dick Button.
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Even non-skaters felt for Chen after watching his performance.
It’s important to remember that a disappointing skate does not define an otherwise stellar competitor. He told InStyle back in the fall that he looked forward to the opportunity to go to the Olympics, and it has been a dream of his since he started skating as a kid.
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“I was born in Salt Lake City, and when I was 3 years old, they had the Olympic Games there, and because of that, they opened up a whole bunch of different rinks and practice facilities in my area. I remember watching my older brother play hockey. I saw the goalie and I thought the gear was so cool, and I was like, ‘Alright, that’s what I want to do,'” he said.
“Obviously competing at the Games, that’s huge. It’s something I’ve looked forward to my whole entire life, just to be at the Olympic games, be at the Olympic venue, be at all the Olympic Village and all that. But honestly just being able to meet a lot of different people, meet a lot of these Olympic athletes that I’ve watched on TV for years. It’ll just be an awesome experience.”
Despite his disappointing skate, he found redemption in his last Olympic performance. During his free skate program, he landed a historic six quads, breaking his own record for most ever landed. NBD.