- Nathan Chen, the star of US figure skating, had a disappointing debut at the Winter Olympics.
- Chen finished fourth in the team event after falling and botching a landing.
- Chen admitted he was nervous after his run, leading to some concerns about how he’ll handle the men’s individual event, where he’s a medal favorite.
Nathan Chen, the 18-year-old star of US figure skating, did not get off to a good start at the Winter Olympics.
In his Olympic debut, taking part in the men’s short program for the team event (more on that below), Chen came up well short of expectations, failing to properly execute the quad triple toe, perhaps his specialty, and falling on another jump.
The resulting score was an 80.61, which put him in fourth place. The score prompted NBC analyst and former Olympian Johnny Weir to call the run “a disaster.”
Weir was not alone, as others in the Olympic world were surprised to see Chen falter.
Huge bummer for Nathan. Doubles a planned quad and then falls on the triple Axel. 80.61… he's crushed with that score in the kiss and cry
— Nick McCarvel (@NickMcCarvel) February 9, 2018
A disastrously bad performance for Nathan Chen. No clean jump, one fall, a doubled quad toe
— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) February 9, 2018
In the team competition, one skater from all four disciplines (men’s, women’s, pairs, and ice dancing) compete, with the best score for each being awarded 10 points, second-place 9 points, and so on. The scores are added up, and the five countries with the highest score then repeat the process for the free program, with the top finishers medaling based on cumulative score from there.
The US won bronze in Sochi 2014, the first year the team event was introduced, and has a shot at medaling this year.
The expectation was that Chen could carry the US to a higher score as one of the best skaters in the men’s category. His low score could offer a blow to the US as he finished fourth for the night (7 points).
The team competition isn’t the top concern for the US, but it could still hurt their medal count, nonetheless. Additionally, the takeaway seemed to be that Chen’s Olympic debut may not be as smooth as some expected.
After his performance on Thursday, Chen told NBC: “I think I was a little bit in my head. I apologize to Team USA. I’m going to have to readjust ahead of the individual event.”
The bigger concern is if Chen can manage those nerves in the men’s individuals.
Olympic pressure is unlike anything else these skaters have faced. Nathan Chen looked very nervous out there.
— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 9, 2018
While the team event certainly matters for the athletes, for Chen (and the US Olympic squad), the main feature will be his individual event. The Olympic world hopes to see a better performance.