BEIJING — Nathan Chen completed his redemption story at Beijing. The 22-year-old won gold Thursday in the men's figure skating program against a competitive field of skaters.
After the venue ceremony at Beijing's Capital Indoor Stadium, Chen was still soaking up his achievement.
"I never really felt I'd be able to make it this far in my career," he said. "I'd always, of course, dream about making the Olympics and winning the Olympics, but I [thought], 'That's hard, I don't know if I can make that happen.'"
As he took the ice with a slight grin, Chen looked confident and exuded joy as he skated to a remix of "Rocket Man" and "Benny and the Jets" by Elton John. His performance gained a standing ovation by team officials and other Olympic athletes sitting in the stadium.
His fifth place finish in this event at the Pyeongchang Olympics was a shadow following Chen as he headed to Beijing. But since hitting the ice at the 2022 Winter Games, Chen has showed he overcame those demons and the immense pressure he faced this week — and then some.
Chen surpassed the field with a score of 218.63 points, giving him a total of 332.60 after his short program from earlier in the week. That's 22.55 points ahead of silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan, who received a total score of 310.05. Shoma Uno of Japan won bronze with 293.00.
Japan's Hanyu attempts never-been-done move
Two-time defending gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu, also of Japan, placed fourth at 283.21 after falling multiple times during his routine.
Hanyu's large fanbase in China was evident even in the limited crowd at the stadium. The few hundred local fans in attendance loudly applauded the Japanese star every time he landed a jump. Even in warmups, the 27-year-old's moves excited spectators, and his falls elicited groans from the crowd. Fans, holding signs and with their phones at the ready, waited outside the stadium hoping to get a glimpse of him in exiting vehicles.
Hanyu attempted to make history by landing a difficult, never-been-done-before-in-competition quadruple axel in which a skater does 4.5 rotations on a jump, but failed.
A deferential Chen said the prior gold medalist "progressed the sport in so many ways." Despite Hanyu's fall, Chen said his effort Thursday to land the quad axel was "really special to see."