Chen Tops Men’s Short with Golden Jump Arsenal
by Liz Leamy
(26 January 2020) Nathan Chen, 20, dominated the men’s event with his famous technical acumen, knocking out two quads, a Lutz and quad toe loop in combination with a triple toe loop, along with a triple Axel, to easily take first with a 114.13 in the 18-member men’s competition.
Chen, the 2018 and 2019 World champion and three-time U.S. titlist, looked comfortable, confident and polished when he did his high-speed and theatrical program to ‘La Boheme’ Saturday afternoon that was choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne, the Canadian World dance champion who crafted Mariah Bell’s stunning ‘Hallelujah’ free skate which helped her score silver in the ladies competition Friday night.
For Chen, it was a successful outing.
“I’m thrilled with today. The short program went really well,” said Chen, a Yale University sophomore who is majoring in statistics and computer science. “I’m just really excited to be here. It’s an awesome event and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Chen, who had several weeks ago, dealt with a brutal cold that kept him off the ice for a short time, said he was glad to be back at 100 percent health and able to put out a solid program at this competition.
“The practices have been going well here and I just stuck with the program,” said Chen, who scored his third Championship Grand Prix final title last December.
Chen said Nationals is a competition he very much looks forward to being part of every year.
“Nationals holds a lot of weight and is a very important competition. We have a lot of full-packaged skaters,” said Chen, who grew up skating in Salt Lake City. “Every competition is a new competition. Competitions give you motivation and inspiration.”
Jason Brown, the 2015 U.S. titlist, stepped up to the challenge in stellar fashion with his spellbinding program to Kaleo’s “I Can’t Go On Without You” for which he was awarded a 100.99, the second-highest score in this event.
“One thing about the short program this year is that I love it so much,” said Brown.
Brown, 25, the effervescent Chicago-area native who trains with Tracy Wilson and Brian Orser at the Toronto Cricket Club in Canada, captured the attention of the crowd with the skill and expertise of a star entertainer as he went through each move as if it were the only element in his program.
He opened up with a rock-solid triple flip then did a triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe loop that covered more than 20 feet of the rink length as well as some artful spins, including his signature back catchfoot and back layback that were a huge hit with the audience.
The biggest thing about Brown’s skating, ultimately, is the extraordinary quality of his edges, flow and movement in virtually everything he does, rendering his component scores to be an average of 9.75’s across the board, marks considered to be a huge deal in the point department.
Brown’s alignment, positions and execution was of textbook quality and done in truly masterful style, which is comparable with watching a quad, in all truth.
According to Brown, it’s all about pushing himself to reach the next level.
“Every single day [my coaches and I] are working on quality of skating skills as well as spins and jumps,” said Brown. “Every day they’re really pushing me to be the best version of myself and I’m always pushing for more.”
Andrew Torgashev, 18, who trains at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs with Christy Krall, Erik Klein and Joshua Ferris, catapulted himself right into potential medal placement, wowing the crowd with his electric program that earned a 97.87.
Skating to a compilation of classical piano and techno derivations of Claude deBussy’s ‘Claire de Lune,’ Torgashev turned up the heat in the Greensboro Coliseum Complex with his energy and expertise, executing a huge quad toe loop, triple Axel and triple flip-triple toe loop, among other impressive things.
This program, which Torgashev created, was edgy, engaging and more than anything, a huge hit with the audience, who gave him a rousing standing ovation.
For Torgashev, the 2015 U.S. junior champion, this moment marked an important benchmark moment in his competitive career, as over the years he has faced bouts with some injuries that have prevented him from training at optimal level.
This performance also rendered Torgashev, who has been in stellar health over the past year while training in Colorado, a Cinderella story of sorts at this event, a narrative that did not get lost on anyone, especially the audience.
For Torgashev, this performance was like a dream come true.
“I’ve been putting my heart and soul into my training leading up to this,” said Torgashev. “Having a standing ovation and looking at each person standing on their feet and taking it in and thanking all of them in my head, it’s just something I’ll remember forever.”
Torgashev said at this point his focus is on doing his job again on Sunday in the free skate.
“I think for this competition, I’m heavily relying on my training and staying focused. That’s my strategy for tomorrow.”
Vincent Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist and three-time U.S. medalist, was fourth with a 94.82.
Skating to the big 2014 radio tune, ‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford and Sons, Zhou did a solid quad Salchow, triple Axel and triple flip-triple toe loop, among other things.
Tomoki Hiwatashi, the 2019 U.S. pewter medalist, was fifth with a 94.21 and did a quad toe loop, triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe loop with terrific energy, power and aptitude.