Nathan Chen (USA) was at his very best in the Men’s Short Program during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at Capital Indoor Gymnasium on Tuesday. Chen skated to the lead, setting a new highest score. Japan’s rising stars Yuma Kagiyama shone and sits in second position while Shoma Uno follows in third. Super star Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) placed eighth after making a costly mistake.
“La Boheme”: A Sublime Chen – The pressure was on Chen, the three-time World Champion, and he delivered an excellent performance to “La Boheme”, reeling off a quad flip, triple Axel, quad Lutz-triple toe as well as level four spins and footwork. Only at the end, the American let his emotions out, showing his relief. “I have no idea what came over me. Normally I don’t do stuff like that. It just felt right. I was really happy and it just came out,” he noted.
The Olympic Team Event silver medalist netted 113.97 points, surpassing Hanyu’s record score set in 2020, to take the lead. “I’d say it’s pretty close to my best. Obviously there are always things you can improve on, there are always things you can do a little bit better, but overall I’m very happy,” Chen said. “(I) Just (want to) stay present, I don’t want to think too far into the future. The more important thing is to recover and get ready for the Free Program. Be present, enjoy what I was able to do, come fresh tomorrow morning and try to do my best,” he added.
Skating to “Smile”, Kagiyama (JPN) hit a quad Salchow, quad toe-triple toe, triple Axel and had all reason to smile at the end. The teenager got very excited when he saw his score: 108.12, a new personal best. “This is my first Olympic Winter Games and to be honest with you, I thought I was going to be very nervous, but from the beginning to the end, I was just having fun skating,” the 2021 ISU World silver medalist said. “As for the jumps, I cannot complain, I had nice landings, but for some steps, my legs were giving up on me, that was a little minus for me. But everything else was quite good,” he continued.
Uno (JPN) proved that he is still in the game and put out another strong performance of his program to two classical Oboe concertos that featured his trademark quad flip, a quad toe-triple toe and triple Axel. However, he had to fight for the landing of the combination and put down his hand on the triple toe. Nevertheless, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist managed to improve his personal best with 105.90 points.
“For today’s performance, I felt a bit unconfident with my jumps. However, I was in good spirit. I had a problem on my combination (quadruple toe loop and triple toe loop). I will have to practice my combination,” he noted. “I will add more complicated and difficult jumps in my Free Skating. There is one day left to adjust myself, and I will bring the best for the competition.”
ISU Four Continents Champion Junhwan Cha (KOR) came fourth with a dynamic performance that included a quadruple Salchow and triple Lutz-triple loop combination (99.51 points). “I hesitated before the competition, worrying about the results. Despite my nervousness, I was trusting my own competence, and managed to finish this program as I did in my training. I have enjoyed a quite good form from the very beginning of the season,” Cha said.
Morisi Kvitelashvili (GEO) produced a clean program as well with two quadruple jumps and got 97.98 points. Jason Brown (USA) rounds up the top six. Skating last out of the 29 Men, he landed a triple flip, triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toeloop (97.24 points). “It’s never easy to skate last in an event. It was the buildup to get out there to finally compete to have that moment. I was just thrilled that I was able to put it all out there,” Brown shared.
All top six Skaters achieved a new personal best score. Evgeni Semenenko (ROC) follows in seventh with another clean program on 95.76 points.
Hanyu (JPN) popped his opening quad Salchow into a single. The two-time Olympic Champion recovered to nail a quad toe-triple toe and a triple Axel and is 10 points away from the podium at 95.15 points.
“I feel I am a little bit in shock. I didn’t feel anything bad until takeoff. When I took off, I was under some hole, maybe (caused by) some other Skater’s toe (loop) or flip or something,” Hanyu commented. “Figure Skating has two programs. I have one more chance in the Free Program. I have a lot of time with the music and many jumps in there,” he explained and confirmed that he plans on going for the quadruple Axel.
2019 World bronze medalist Vincent Zhou (USA) who was with Chen on the silver medal winning U.S. Team, withdrew due to a positive COVID-19 test. The Men’s Event concludes Thursday with the Free Skating.