It looks like we'll have to wait another four years for Nathen Chen's next shot at Olympic glory. Nerves may have finally gotten to the 18-year-old when the Team USA figure skater gave a shocking performance in the men's short program late Thursday night. His routine, riddled with botched jumps and a fall on the quadruple lutz, put him in 17th place at the end and well out of medal contention going into Saturday's free skate. While Chen may have succumbed to mounting pressure, heartbroken fans have found something else to focus on: Chen's Vera Wang costume.
Wang has a history of designing lots of figure skating costumes for some of the biggest names in the sport, including skaters like Nancy Kerrigan, Evan Lysacek, and Michelle Kwan. But Chen's middling performance has disappointed fans, and some are blaming the "cursed" Vera Wang costume he wore. Everyone knows you can't seriously blame an outfit, but that's not stopping Twitter.
Chen, a heavy favorite going into his first Winter Games, opted to shun the usual sequins and rhinestones. For his free skate in the men's individual event, Chen wore a chic, minimalist outfit in solid black save for a white panel and white sleeve on the left.
The sleek look was unfortunately accompanied by a poor performance and Twitter users definitely has opinions.
Some just couldn't believe that one of the best skaters in the world could do that without some bad luck.
One user wondered if was the curse of Vera Wang.
Vera Wang fan Michelle Kwan is another skater who fans were crushed to see never get her Olympic gold medal. Kwan's resumé, however, also boasts of Olympic silver and bronze medals, five World Championships, and nine National Championships — not too shabby.
People using Kwan as evidence of the Vera Wang jinx seem to have forgotten that Wang also dressed Evan Lysacek for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where Lysacek won the gold medal. He became the man in 22 years to win gold in U.S. men's figure skating.
Meanwhile, one user had a hunch that it's all about the glitz.
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, defending his gold medal title from the 2014 Sochi games, is in the lead following the short program. His costume consisted of a billowy ombre shirt with golden bling around the collar. In second place is Spain's Javier Fernández, who kept it understated in a black costume cardigan over a white button top. Third place skater Shoma Uno of Japan sparkled in a lot of rhinestones though.
One person on Twitter thinks Chen's short program disaster was a result of a Samson and Delilah kind of situation.
Chen chopped off his curly locks in January. “The curl is gone but I guess that makes me more aerodynamic, so that’s alright," Chen told Team USA News at the time. Naturally, his competitor and teammate Adam Rippon chimed in, “You should grow it back if it’s making you more aerodynamic."
Regardless of what he’s wearing, Chen still has a chance to end on a high note with his free skate on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. EST. He will skate with fellow American athletes Rippon and Vincent Zhou. Rippon has the highest standing — seventh place — for Team USA going into the free skate. Zhou in 12th place has the honor of landing the first ever quadruple lutz in Olympic history.
But PyeongChang doesn’t have to be the end for Chen. The two-time National Champion is currently the only skater competing with five different quadruple jumps and is still one of the dominant skaters in the world.
And as one person pointed out:
Cross your fingers then and keep your eye on the road to the 2022 Winter Olympics.