Nathan Chen has literally taken figure skating to new heights. The two-time World Champion and three-time United States Champion has made winning a habit. He became the first skater to land five quadruple jumps in one program and was the first skater to ever attempt six quads in one program. He accomplished this on the sport’s biggest stage – at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Nathan, who was born in Salt Lake City, home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, had always dreamed about competing at the Olympic Games. He was even interviewed on TV at the age of ten hoping to be able to compete in the 2018 Olympics. Nathan started skating when he was just three years old and has made a rapid rise in the sport. He won two national titles at the novice level (he became the youngest national novice champion at the age of ten) and captured two more national titles at the junior level before moving up to the senior ranks.
At the 2016 U.S. Championships in St. Paul, he became the first U.S. skater to land two quads in a short program. Then he closed out the event by landing 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, unfortunately, suffered a hip injury at the 2016 U.S. Championships 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 Marseilles, France.
At the 2017 U.S. Championships in Kansas City, Nathan earned a record-breaking score of 106.39 in the short program, setting a new U.S. record by more than six points. He ignited the crowd with a record five clean quadruple jumps in the free skate, sending a message to the best skaters in the world that he had indeed emerged as the new quad king. Nathan became the youngest U.S. men's champion in more than five decades.
Nathan won every competition he entered leading up to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, earning gold medals in both of his international Grand Prix events and the Grand Prix Final. Nathan defended his U.S. crown at the 2018 U.S. Championships in San Jose and was selected to compete in his first Olympic Games.
The 2018 Winter Olympics did not go quite as Nathan had hoped. After the short program, Nathan was in 17th place. The next day, Nathan came back with a vengeance. His incredibly demanding free skate program registered the highest score in the free skate (215.08 points), beating the score of eventual Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu by 8.91 points. Nathan left PyeongChang with one of the most memorable performances of the Winter Games in the men’s event and finished in 5th place. In addition, he earned an Olympic bronze medal as part of Team USA in the Olympic Team Event. One month later, Nathan went on the win the 2018 World Championships in Milan for his first World title.
After repeating as champion at the 2018 Grand Prix Final, Nathan won his third consecutive title at the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. He scored 113.42 in his short program and 228.80 in the free skate for a total of 342.22. All three scores were personal bests for Nathan, and as well as all-time U.S. championships records. He beat his closest competitor by an astounding 58.21 points.
At the 2019 World Championships in Saitama, Japan, Nathan became the first American man to successfully defend his World title since Scott Hamilton in 1983/1984. Nathan broke the ISU world records in both the free skate (216.02) and total points (323.42), beating out two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan.
Although he is best known for his technical prowess, 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. He enlisted Canadian world champion ice dancer Shae-Lynn Bourne to craft his short programs for the past two seasons, and Marie-France Dubreuil to create his 2018/2019 free skate. Nathan also has a strong background in ballet, having trained at the renowned Ballet West Academy during his youth.
Nathan is most at home in an ice rink, and it makes sense given his family’s passion for anything on ice. Both of his brothers, Tony and Colin, played hockey. Both of Nathan’s sisters, Alice and Janice, took up figure skating. For years, Nathan competed in both figure skating and hockey, until figure skating ultimately won the battle of the blades.
Off the ice, Nathan enjoys playing guitar, biking and long boarding along the California beaches. In the fall of 2018, Nathan started his freshman year at Yale University in New Haven, CT. And typical of Nathan to challenge himself, he is taking a full course load while competing and training as he is aiming to return to the Olympics in 2022. At 19 years old, Nathan has already made a name for himself in the sport. But his work has just begun, and Nathan hopes to continue setting new records and pushing figure skating to new heights.