Nathan Chen Catapults to Top Men's Short Program
by Liz Leamy
(27 January 2019) Saturday afternoon at the 2019 U.S. National Championships, Nathan Chen, the 2018 World and 2018 U.S. champion, knocked it out of the proverbial park and claimed the top spot on the leaderboard in the men’s short program with ease and power.
Chen, the 2018 ISU Grand Prix Final champion, along with Jason Brown, the 2015 U.S. Champion, Vincent Zhou, the two-time U.S. medalist (silver in 2017 and bronze in 2018), along with the other contenders in this main event, held at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, featured all the stuff of a memorable sports showdown, including drama, excellence and great energy.
Chen, 19, a full-time freshman at Yale University in New Haven and Salt Lake City native, skated to ‘Caravan’ by Boston Brass, a jazzy compilation that he interpreted with power, passion and determination.
Racking up a whopping 113.42, Chen opened up with a big triple Axel and followed it up with a quad flip and quad toe-triple toe, all of which he executed with attack and determination.
For his jumps, Chen was awarded high Grade of Execution points that ranged from (one) plus ones to (mostly) plus four and fives.
At the conclusion of the short program, Chen talked about adjusting to college life in Connecticut in tandem with maintaining an full-time competitive training regimen. (He trains at the ‘Yale Whale’ facility in New Haven at school and then spends time with his coach, Rafael Arutyunyan in California, during his school breaks.)
“Overall I think it’s an adjustment training by myself (in New Haven), but I’m looking forward to continue doing the same,” said Chen. “I’m really blessed to have the option to be at Yale. They’ve been really good to me.”
Brown, 24, a Chicago-area native, skated a riveting program to ‘Love is a B---‘ by Two Feet that was defined by super-smooth and fluid edges, gorgeous positions, outstanding jumps and breathtaking spins.
He did a triple flip and triple Lutz-triple toe that covered nearly the entire third of the total rink length and a big triple Axel, among other things.
For his jumps, Brown earned Grade of Execution scores comprised of mostly plus fours and plus fives.
Brown, who has been training full time in Toronto with Tracy Wilson and Brian Orser since last year, said being there has been an asset to his skating.
“I’m really excited about the growth I’ve made in such a short period of time,” said Brown.
Vincent Zhou, the 19 year-old Palo Alto native who trains with Tammy Gambill, Tom Zakrajsek and Christy Krall, did a dramatic program to Muse’s ‘Exogenesis Symphony Part 3,’ for which he earned a high 100.25.
Zhou knocked out a quad Lutz-triple toe (and received a downgrade on the first jump in this combination), quad Salchow and triple Axel, among other things.
For his jumps, all of which were fast and powerful, Zhou earned a majority of plus two, plus three and plus four Grade of Execution scores.
“I’ve been working extremely hard on the quality (of my skating),” said Zhou. “I [think] my quality definitely has improved.”