(BEIJING) — Nathan Chen has his Olympic gold medal.
The 22-year-old took the win in the men’s singles event, rebounding from his disappointing 2018 Pyeongchang performance for a triumphant comeback.
The reigning world champion scored a 218.63 in his free skate and 332.60 overall.
Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama stumbled on a quad loop, eliminating any chance of winning, but did hold on for silver. Fellow Japanese skater Shoma Uno had a stumble of his own, on a quad flip, but earned bronze.
Yuzuru Hanyu, the two-time defending gold medalist, shockingly bailed on his first quad jump in the short program and managed to only place eighth heading into the free skate. Hanyu went for a quad axel in his free skate, which has never been landed in competition, but fell to the ice. Still, he jumped up to fourth in the final standings with a strong free skate.
Fellow Team USA member Jason Brown came into the free skate placing sixth in the individual short program. Brown, the first to take the ice in the final group, held onto that spot in the final standings.
Chen led coming into the free skate program following a world record-setting short program, with a score of 113.97 points that easily topped Japanese skaters Kagiyama (108.12) and Uno (105.90).
Earlier this week, Team USA took home silver in the team figure skating competition, behind the Russian Olympic Committee.
Teammate Vincent Zhou — who helped the team secure the silver medal with his free skating performance — had to withdraw from the individual competition after testing positive for COVID-19.
Chen was seen as a clear gold medal contender at the Beijing Olympics after a poor short program cost him a medal four years ago.
At the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, Chen earned bronze in the team event though failed to make the podium in singles, finishing fifth overall. But he still managed to make history there, becoming the first skater to land six quadruple jumps in a single program while also earning the highest free skate score ever in an Olympic competition.
Chen came to Beijing after winning his sixth straight national figure skating championship — a feat last accomplished by Dick Button, winner of seven consecutive U.S. titles in the 1940s and ’50s.
The three-time world champion took time off from Yale University to train for the 2022 Olympics and plans to return to the school in the fall to study statistics and data science.
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