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2022 Olympic Winter Games

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

Shoma Uno (JPN)

Junhwan Cha (KOR)

Nathan Chen Achieves Olympic Destiny

(11 Feb. 2022)  The free programs of the 24 men who had reached the final at the Olympic Games 2022 had a very good level. Three times World Champion Nathan Chen of Irvine in California was the favorite and won a run-away gold medal the first U.S. skater since Evan Lysacek was first at the Olympic Games of 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. Chen’s 332.60 total points were only three points below his own world record from the Grand Prix Final 2019.

Chen opened his free program to the soundtrack of “Rocket Man“ by Elton John with an outstanding combination of quad flip and triple toe loop, followed by another outstanding quad flip. The quad Salchow had caused some problems in practice, but in the competition it was good. The quad Lutz was stellar and later he added a fifth quad, this time a toe loop in a sequence with Euler and flip which was planned triple but became single. A very good triple Axel and a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop were also in his program, as well as two very good spins, a third one which got only the basic value and two excellent step sequences. His components had an average of 9.7, with seven 10.0 from four different judges. He commented: "I never really felt I'd be able to make it this far in my career. I'd always of course dreamt about making the Olympics and winning the Olympics, but I thought, 'That's hard, I don't know if I can make that happen'.“

Among those congratulating Chen upon his achievement, was Elton John himself who congratulated Nathan Chen on Twitter for winning gold and skating to his music "Rocket Man."

Like at the World Championships 2021, the best Japanese skater was Yuma Kagiyama with the silver medal, this time with 310.05 points. Performing to the soundtrack of “Gladiator“, he landed three excellent quads (one Salchow and two toe loops), but stumbled on the quad loop. Two triple Axels were good as well as a combination of triple flip and triple loop. Spins and steps were outstanding, but his components of around 9.4 too high. He would have won silver even with lower components.

Shoma Uno, also from Japan, won the bronze medal with 293.00 points, four years after winning Olympic silver. This time, he skated to a new arrangement of Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero“, beginning with a very good quad loop and a shaky quad Salchow. Then he fell on the quad flip and continued with a very good triple Axel. The first quad toe loop was not clean but the second one with double toe loop very good. His last jump element was a sequence of triple Axel, Euler and single flip which was planned triple. His spins and steps were outstanding, the step sequence was awarded five GOEs of +5.

Super star Yuzuru Hanyu could not win a third gold medal after being first in 2014 and 2018. But with the third best free program to the soundtrack of “Heaven and Earth“ by Isao Tomita he moved up from eighth position in the short program to fourth, earning 283.21 total points. In the summer he had said that being the first skater in the world to perform a clean quad Axel is more important for him than winning a third Olympic gold medal. But in practice no quad Axel was clean and when he tried this jump as first element in his program it was under-rotated and he fell and fell again on the quad Salchow about 15 seconds later. The other ten elements were at least very good, including two quad toe loops, two triple Axels and a triple flip. The two step sequences and two of the three spins were excellent. Because of his superb style and many easy-looking elements he had components of around 9.0, but no longer more than 9.5 because he looked disappointed after the two mistakes at the beginning. Later he said: “I used my full power for the quad Axel, so I think I was a little tired for the quad Salchow.“

Junhwan Cha from South Korea took fifth place with 282.38 points, only one point behind Hanyu. Skating to the opera “Turandot“ by Giacomo Puccini, he began with a bad fall on the quad toe loop, but pulled himself together and continued with an impressive quad Salchow and six very good triple jumps and a so-so triple Salchow. He has worked with Brian Orser for seven years now, but during the pandemic mostly only online.

Jason Brown finished in sixth place with a personal best-ever of 281.24 points although he did not try any quad jump. Skating in an emotional way to the soundtrack of “Schindler’s List“, his outstanding style helped him to get the second highest components of around 9.6, just a little bit behind Chen, but ahead of the three Japanese skaters including Hanyu. Brown had eight components of perfect 10.0 from three different judges and many more GOEs of +5 than any other skater, for example 14 of possible 18 for the two step sequences and 8 of 9 for the last combination spin. Five of the seven triple jumps were excellent, including the two Axels, the flip even stellar and only the loop only good.

He commented: “I think our sport is such a beautiful combination. It’s unbelievable to see the technicians pushing the sport technically and I’m blown away and think so highly of them and I respect them so much. It’s also making sure that this other side isn’t forgotten about and I want to keep pushing it and proving that there’s so much value to that and I’m going to constantly give it my all.”

Daniel Grassl from Merano in Italy finished seventh with 278.07 points after the fourth best free program and was the best European skater. He began his program with quad Lutz (with a small edge warning), a good quad flip and a good sequence of quad loop, Euler and triple Salchow. Later he added six triples. Evgeni Semenenko came eighth with 274.13 points and two good quads and was the best Russian skater. The Chinese skater Boyang Jin finished ninth with three quads and 270.43 points.

Morisi Kvitelashvili from Georgia placed tenth with two clean quad and 268.62 points. Keegan Messing from Canada is 11th, winning 265.61 points. Kevin Aymoz came 12th with 254.80 points. The European champion Mark Kondratiuk finished only 15th with 248.82 points. He had to compete for the fourth time within six days. The Australian Brendan Kerry is 17th with the best ever competition and 244.80 points, U.S. skater Vincent Zhou was not allowed to compete after being tested positive the day after his free program in the team event.