Perhaps no American figure skater entered the 2018 Winter Olympics with higher expectations, and thus more pressure, than Nathan Chen. And, after a rocky start that drew criticism from commentators and casual observers alike, he roared back on Friday in the men’s free skate. Simply put, you need to see the video of Chen's incredible 2018 Olympics free skate, because it's an inspirational comeback from his early struggles.
Chen, 18, pulled off a staggering six quads in an inspirational free skate routine, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd in PyeongChang. Chen, whose arrival and participation in the 2018 Winter Games has been hugely hyped on NBC's Olympics broadcasts, saw his Olympic career start with some falters, including a disappointing performance in the short program on Thursday.
But on Friday night, Chen's star was shining brightly for all to see. Widely considered a potential gold medalist when he hits the ice at the next Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022, Chen gave the crowd in South Korea a serious taste of his virtuoso skills. Make no mistake, if you missed his performance when it aired on Friday night, you owe it to yourself to take a couple minutes and check it out right now.
Chen's earlier skating routines, in which he stumbled and even fell, drew somewhat harshly negative reviews from analysts, including NBC skating commentator Johnny Weir, who described his initial error-prone short program as "the worst short program I’ve ever seen from Nathan Chen."
Given the soaring expectations that the media had built up around Chen's 2018 Olympics, it would probably have been easy for him to write the entire thing off as a failure, or a disappointment, or to let the negativity get inside his head.
And yet, when Friday rolled around, he showed up in dominant, graceful, and incredible fashion, pulling off one whirling mid-air quad after another en route to posting a big, big score.
Following Chen's routine, people blew up in celebration on Twitter. Owing to some of the criticism his past performances have received, there was a fair amount of angst and pathos that built up among his many fans. But now, despite all the previous setbacks and mishaps, Chen will depart from PyeongChang with a signature performance on the world stage to his name.
The performance earned Chen a score of 215.08, which is his personal best. Although the ultimate outcome will be dependent on how the other skaters after him score, at the time of this writing he's still in contention to win a medal. And when you consider just how unlikely that seemed even a day prior, it's a real testament to Chen's resilience and tenacity.
Once again, Chen's fans all over the country and the world may have to wait a while to see him on the biggest stage once more, but they should have reason to get excited again in a few years. He'll almost surely be considered a top contender when the 2022 Games roll around, along with fellow wunderkind American skater Vincent Zhou.
If you've been keeping up with all the action out of PyeongChang, then you probably don't need to be reminded of NBC's broadcast schedule. But in the event you need an update, you check check out when all the various events will be happening, and plan your evening viewing accordingly.
If you want to check out some more figure skating, make sure to tune into the ice dancing competition on Sunday, followed by the ice dancing final on Monday night. After all, the Winter Olympics only come around once every four years, so you'd better get it while you can.