Nathan Chen has emerged as one of the top American hopes in figure skating, producing a record number of quadruple jumps in his programs and bringing enthusiasm to a new level.
Nathan, who was born in Salt Lake City -- the home of the 2002 Winter Olympics -- is considered one of the top American hopes, not only to compete in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, but to contend for the gold medal.
Nathan continues to rewrite the record books, becoming the first skater to land five different quads in a program, and he beat Yuzuru Hanyu, the 2014 Olympic champion and reigning world champion, in one of the major Grand Prix events this season in Russia.
Nathan is more than just a jumping machine. He has worked with some of the most noted choreographers in the sport to improve his artistic side of the skating. This season, he enlisted Canadian world champion ice dancer Shae-Lynn Bourne to craft his short program and Lori Nichol, a Hall of Fame choreographer most noted for her work with Michelle Kwan, to create his free skate. He also has a strong background in ballet, having trained at the renowned Ballet West Academy. Nathan hopes to showcase both sides of his skating at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Nathan spent many years building to this moment in time. He won two national titles at the novice level and two more at the junior level before moving up to the senior ranks. Now at the top, he has made his presence well known.
At the 2017 U.S. Championships in Kansas City, he ignited the crowd with a record five clean quadruple jumps in the free skate and sending a message to the best skaters in the world that he had indeed emerged as the new quad king.
In the short program, he earned a record breaking score of 106.39, setting a new U.S. record by more than six points. Nathan’s free skate total of 212.08 and overall score of 318.47 (both U.S. records) helped him become the youngest U.S. men's champion in more than five decades.
At the 2016 U.S. Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota, he became the first U.S. skater to land two quads in a short program. Then he closed the event by landing an astounding four quads in the free skate. Nathan’s jumping prowess helped him enter the record books as the previous record number of quads landed in a long program was three. Nathan was not even a year old when that record had been set.
Nathan suffered a hip injury at the 2016 Exhibition that required surgery. He spent five months in rehabilitation at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Nathan feels that this recovery made him mentally and physically stronger. He proved it with his 2016 Grand Prix Final Silver Medal performance in Marseille, France. Nathan became the youngest and the first U.S. men’s medalist in the Grand Prix Final since in 2009.
Nathan is most at home in an ice rink, and it makes sense given his family’s passion for anything on ice. His oldest brother, Tony, played hockey and reached the U18 Midget level. His second-oldest brother, Colin, also played hockey. And both of Nathan’s sisters took up figure skating. Nathan, the youngest of five children, started skating at the age of three. Not only has he become a talented figure skater but he also was a strong hockey player for many years. He initially wanted to be a goalie but then switched to playing forward. He played hockey while simultaneously training in figure skating until a few years ago when figure skating won the battle of the blades.
He trained in Salt Lake City for many years before deciding to relocate to Southern California to train with Rafael Arutunian about four years ago. Off the ice, Nathan enjoys playing guitar, biking and long boarding along the California beaches.
At 18 years old, Nathan has already made a name for himself in the sport. But his work has just begun, and he hopes to continue setting new records and pushing figure skating to new heights.