There hasn’t been much for Americans to celebrate in the first few days of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Five days into the events, and not a single American athlete has won a gold medal, with the U.S. totaling just five medals.
Even when an American has won gold in Beijing, it won’t count toward the United States’ medal total. Tuesday morning local time, American-born Chinese skier Elaine Gu won her first gold medal, landing her first ever 1620 to win a gold medal in the women’s big air event. The problem? Gu chose to ski for China in 2019, spurning her home country of America in a decision which has drawn strong criticism online.
So when U.S. figure skater Nathan Chen took the ice Tuesday in Beijing, he had an opportunity to kickstart the U.S. hopes for Olympic dominance.
Chen did not disappoint.
Chen recorded the highest score in the history of the short program, getting a score of 113.97 from the judges. Chen landed a triple axel and two quadruple jumps in his routine, vaulting the American to the top of the leaderboard.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 8, 2022
“I was just elated,” Chen said. “At the last Olympics, both of the short programs didn’t go the way I wanted. To finally get an opportunity to skate the programs I wanted feels really good.”
Chen’s performance was a massive rebound from his disastrous result at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, where he was the favorite to win the gold medal but finished in fifth place.
“I think that looking back in 2018, all I could think about was skating and not being able to, obviously, skate well. So I want to definitely be able to embrace the Games in a different way,” Chen told People prior to the start of the Olympics.
“It’s so easy to fall into the trap of being like, ‘Oh my gosh, the pressure’s building. Everything’s so stressful. Everything’s so scary,’ ” Chen continued. “I think that feeling in that way isn’t necessarily a bad thing all the time, but just being able to remind yourself like, yes, this is a pretty stressful time, but at the same time, there’s a lot more to life. There’s so much more than this individual competition, than this one shot.”
The only other American competing on Tuesday was Jason Brown, who is in sixth place after a score of 96.27.
“I couldn’t ask for more,” Brown said, visibly emotional during an interview on the broadcast. “I gave it my all. It was a long time coming, eight years trying to get back to this stage, and being able to put on a performance like that, it feels great.”
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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