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Chen’s near-perfect skate wins long-sought Olympic gold

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BEIJING (AP) Nathan Chen remembers making the long drive with his mommy from his home in Utah to Rafael Arutyunyan’s training base in Southern California. He had actually started in figure skating simply a couple of years previously, using his sister’s skates and sleeping in the car to follow his Olympic dreams.

10 years later on, Chen sat along with Arutyunyan as his scores read and that desire recognized.

With an almost best complimentary skate on the heels of a record-setting brief program, the 22-year-old Yale student walked away with the gold medal at the Beijing Games on Thursday. He ended up being the initial American figure skating champ since Evan Lysacek in 2010 as well as capped one of the most dominant four-year runs in the history of the sporting activity.

” My mother and also I matured rather inadequate. We really didn’t have much cash,” Chen said. “She would just junk with each other some bucks to attempt to pay Raf, and also Raf clearly learnt about the scenario as well as thanks to the generosity of his heart, had the ability to simply proceed taking me in, and taking as much cash as we can provide him.”

Arutyunyan would certainly attempt to give the cash back often, Chen stated, “but I would certainly constantly attempt to stick it in his pocket.”

On Thursday, Chen had the ability to offer his old instructor something valuable.

” I’m happy. Just emotional,” Arutyunyan stated. “He made it.”

Inside historic Resources Indoor Stadium in China, the nation both his parents came in from, Chen landed all five of his quads during his “Rocketman” program set to the skyrocketing movie rating by Elton John. The statistics and data science major completed with an impossible overall of 332.60 factors, simply 3 off his own world document as well as 22 points ahead of his closest competitors. Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno of Japan took silver and bronze.

Chen additionally firmly placed in the past any kind of lingering memories of his ruthless disappointment four years ago in Pyeongchang, when not even a huge free skate can rescue his medal really hopes after a tragic brief program.

” It means the world,” he stated. “I’m just so happy.”

This gold medal may not be the last Chen takes home, either.

The Americans, who gained silver behind the Russians in the group occasion Monday, were awaiting verification from the IOC and also International Skating Union that “lawful issues” holding up the medal ceremony were associated with reports of doping connected to their biggest celebrity, Kamila Valieva. That can inevitably raise the united state to the gold medal, a second for Chen.

” I suggest, I don’t actually seem like I’m the most qualified individual to talk about it,” Chen said. “Whatever ends up holding true will certainly be the case, yet I’m still wrapped up in what I was able to do today.”

The Salt Lake City citizen did his component for the American group with a winning brief program last Friday. Vincent Zhou, that was required to withdraw from the private occasion due to a positive COVID-19 test, would certainly likewise make a gold medal for the united state because he executed his totally free skate on Sunday.

The sophisticated, realistic Chen as well as his Japanese opponents divided themselves from the field during their brief programs, when Chen ruined the globe record with a flawless efficiency to “La Boheme.” When they took to the ice for the complimentary skate, Kagiyama and Uno made simply adequate blunders to clear the way for Chen’s coronation.

Executing to “Bolero,” one of one of the most preferred music choices of the Beijing Gamings, Uno under-rotated a quad salchow as well as quad toe loophole, after that was dented for his combination spin late in the program to completed with 293 points.

It was the 18-year-old Kagiyama, performing to music from the film “Gladiator,” who popped his triple toe loop and triple salchow. It was still sufficient to rack up 310.05 points and also make a fist pump in the kiss-and-cry area, however not nearly enough to include any pressure on Chen, that was calmly skating across the peaceful ice as Kagiyama’s score read.

With a socially distanced crowd watching Thursday mid-day in Beijing, and also millions back house on late-night television, Chen skyrocketed through his opening up quad salchow. He landed 4 more uncomplicated quads, his only slight bobble beginning a late combination series, and couldn’t clean the grin from his face as he apparently grabbed the skies.

The verses to “Rocketman” that played via the old home of ping-pong diplomacy– “And I believe it’s gon na be a long, long period of time, ’til goal brings me ’round once again”– seemed completely fitting for the moment.

Chen basked in the spotlight in the middle of the ice, then headed off to hear his scores, which by that point were a mere formality. Chen’s longtime coach raised his arm like a triumphant boxer once they were read.

” He deserves it,” said American Jason Brown, who finished in sixth place. “I’ve gotten to compete with him over the last four years– at all the world championships, every national championship, the Grand Prix. There is no one more deserving. He worked so hard. He’s so unbelievably talented. I’m so proud to be a teammate.”

While the spotlight shined bright as ever on Chen, it seemed to fade away for his longtime hero and Japanese rival.

Yuzuru Hanyu arrived in Beijing aiming to become the first men’s skater since Gillis Grafstrom in 1928 to win a third straight Olympic gold medal. But after missing most of the past year to an ankle injury, the 27-year-old struggled through his short program on Tuesday, essentially taking him out of contention for a medal.

All that was left for Hanyu was a go-for-broke shot at the quad axel, a 4 1/2-revolution jump that has never been landed in competition. He came close but couldn’t quite hold onto the landing, then fell again on his quad salchow before an emotional finish to what could be his final performance on Olympic ice.

His score left Hanyu in fourth, just out of the medals behind his two teammates.

And, of course, behind the new American champion.

We really didn’t have much money,” Chen said. “She would just scrap together some dollars to try to pay Raf, and Raf obviously knew about the situation and thanks to the kindness of his heart, was able to just continue taking me in, and taking as much money as we could provide him.”

Just emotional,” Arutyunyan said. Inside historic Capital Indoor Stadium in China, the nation both his parents immigrated from, Chen landed all five of his quads during his “Rocketman” program set to the soaring film score by Elton John. The data and statistics science major finished with an insurmountable total of 332.60 points, just three off his own world record and 22 points ahead of his closest competition.

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