by Liz Leamy
(24 December 2021) Nathan Chen, the three-time World and five-time U.S. Men’s champion, is focused on the 2022 U.S. Nationals in Nashville, Tennessee at the Bridgestone Arena that will begin January 3rd and conclude on January 9th.
Chen, 22, known as one of the most proficient jump technicians to have ever emerged from the sport, is looking forward to competing at the U.S. Championships, where the Beijing Winter Olympic team will be selected.
Chen, a Salt Lake City native, has, for the past year and a half, been training full time in Irvine, California with Rafael Arytyunyan, while taking a sabbatical from Yale University (where he plans to resume studying in Fall 2022), working as intensively as ever in preparation for this all-important competition.
“I’m happy with where I am and excited to continue moving forward,” said Chen, who trains at the Great Park Ice and Five Point Arena in Irvine where he spends each day running through his programs, jumps, spins, footwork and other elements with his coach. “I’m looking forward to competing at Nationals and the rest of the season. My focus is to prepare myself as best I can.”
Chen said for Nashville he is planning to use his 2019-2020 short and long programs to La Boheme and Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man,’ respectively, both of which were choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne, the former Canadian World ice dance champion, and both of which he really enjoys.
“I really like the 2019/2020 programs and never got to compete them at Worlds,” said Chen in reference to the 2020 Worlds in Montreal that were cancelled due to the pandemic.
This year at the U.S. Championships Chen will face off against some other prominent American international contenders, including Vincent Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist who won gold at the 2021 Skate America (ahead of Chen, who placed third) and Jason Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion.
All three of these formidable athletes had also qualified for the 2021 Grand Prix Final that was scheduled to be held in Osaka, Japan in December but was cancelled due to a worldwide resurgence of the Omicron variant of the Covid virus.
At the Beijing Olympics, Chen will go up against international heavyweights such as Yuma Kagiyama, 2021 World silver medalist, and Yuzuru Hanyu, the two-time Japanese Olympic gold medalist (in 2014 and 2018) who has, over the past season been working through an ankle injury, yet is someone who always seems to rise to the occasion on the Olympic stage.
Chen, over the past few years, has been focused on building his strength physically as well as mentally. Specifically, Chen has noted that over the past year and a half that he has undergone a great deal of self-reflection, an endeavor that seems to have further honed his steely mindset.
At the same time, Chen also joined forces with some prominent fellow American comrades who gave him some sage advice, including Evan Lysacek, the 2010 U.S. Olympic champion, who skated at Great Park Ice with him last summer.
“It was really cool to be able to [see] him at the rink,” said Chen. “It was nice to be able to share some of the same things and it helped give me a good and fresh perspective on everything.”
Chen also recently mentioned how growing up in Salt Lake City, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics, was an inspirational thing that served as a catalyst leading up to this pivotal moment in his life.
“To be able to be in an Olympic town and see Olympic memorabilia everywhere gives you inspiration,” said Chen. “To have that kind of inspiration has been everything.”
Chen also gave big props to his mom, Hetty, who lives with him in California, saying she has helped him achieve everything in terms of his skating.
“It would’ve been impossible to make it without her help,” said Chen.
Chen further elaborated on how skating has shaped his life in a positive and profound way.
“Skating has given me a lot of structure with very clear moments and very clear goals,” said Chen.
Ultimately, this statement speaks volumes for why Chen has achieved so much success his skating life thus far, that is for certain.
The men’s competition will be held at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday, January 8th at 2 pm and on Sunday, January 9th at 11:15 am.