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Nathan Chen is leaving PyeongChang where it belongs (at least for him): in the past. After posting a career-best short program in the 2022 Olympics team event, Chen went and pushed even higher in the individual short program, scoring a stunning 113.97. That was enough to top the standings, yes, but it also set a brand new short-program world record, beating Yuzuru Hanyu’s previous top mark of 111.82. Safe to say Chen is rewriting his own narrative, one routine at a time.
Chen nailed all three of his jumps, including two quads, and glided through his choreographic sequences, looking like his usual unflappable self. But when he hit the final pose, he knew he’d done something special. The normally stoic Chen let out a fist pump, and when he received his record-breaking score, briefly covered his face with his hands. In a post-routine interview with NBC, the 22-year-old described his emotions as “elated.” After two disappointing short programs at the 2018 Olympics, there’s certainly something very satisfying about watching Chen claim redemption and perform to his fullest potential.
With the short programs now over, Chen has a cushion of more than five points over the second-place skater, Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama. Sitting in third is the defending silver medalist, Shoma Uno, also of Japan, while American Jason Brown is in sixth after posting his own career-best short program. Reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu is in eighth after making an error on his first jumping pass, but if we know anything about Olympic figure skating, it’s that no lead is completely safe. With the free skate still to go, Chen will look to continue his inspiring run in Beijing and bring home the medal that eluded him in PyeongChang.
Keep reading for clips and photos of Chen’s historic routine and emotional reaction.