Thursday was an unforgettable night for the Winter Olympics, with 17-year-old figure skater Vincent Zhou's short program going down in the history books with the games' first-ever successfully executed quad lutz. That term might not mean anything to you if you're not familiar with figure skating, but it's an epic achievement. In short, if you haven't seen it yet, you absolutely need to watch the video, because there's literally no other footage like in Olympic history.
Zhou is reportedly the youngest American competing in the PyeongChang Games this year, although he's the same age as gold medal snowboarder Red Gerard, who kicked off the gold medal season for the United States earlier this week. During the men's short program on Thursday, Zhou pulled off the momentous stunt toward the very beginning of his routine.
As commentator and figure skating gold medalist Tara Lipinski noted as Zhou got ready to attempt the quad lutz, the move had never been cleanly landed in an Olympics routine. But in a whirling flash, Zhou broke that barrier, spinning a full four rotations in midair before landing back down smoothly on the ice. He scored a 84.53 for the routine, which according to USA Today, is his best result of the season.
To help provide a sense of perspective, Zhou's much older teammate, 28-year-old Adam Rippon, actually decided not to attempt the quad lutz in his routine in PyeongChang, not wanting to risk potentially marring an otherwise clean set with such an ambitious and risky move.
In four seasons, Rippon reportedly attempted 11 quad lutzes, and fell in seven of them, in addition to failing to clear the minimum number of rotations seven times. That kind of unsuccessful conversion rate, it seems, was simply too big a risk for Rippon to try out the move on the biggest global stage there is.
Zhou, however, clearly had no such reservations, and he's now cemented his name in Winter Olympics history. It's not a stretch to say that lots of people on social media were awed by the performance he turned in, all before he was even old enough to vote.
Luckily for anyone who missed it, you'll be seeing the highlights played over and over again a while, and there's no telling how much more figure skating from Zhou you'll get to see. At 17, and the youngest member both of the U.S. figure skating team and the entire U.S. Olympic delegation, he could conceivably have two or even three more Olympic runs in him, provided he wants to devote that much time to elite-level figure skating.
It's no secret that he once thought his first trip to the Olympics would come in 2022, however, so it figures that he'd still be planning to compete in Beijing when the time comes.
If you're eager to watch all the Olympic action that's yet to come, you'll want to get familiar with NBC's broadcast schedule. On Saturday, you'll be able to watch the gold medal round of men's free skating, which figures to be an exciting event. It's scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET.
At the moment, the Olympic gold medal count is led by Germany, which has nine at the time of this writing. Norway is in second place with six gold medals, while the Netherlands and the United States are tied for fourth with five apiece. In terms of raw overall medals, however, Norway is leading the pack with 18, with Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands bringing up the rear at 15, 13, and 12 respectively. The United States currently has eight overall medals, the fifth-most of any country at the Winter Games.