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Nathan Chen makes statement with record short program at US nationals | Figure skating

Nathan Chen is clearly back in his game, setting a short program record at the US Figure Skating Championships on Saturday.

With a performance full of great footwork and spin – there were also two massive quads – Chen sent a message to all of his competitors, here and abroad. And 115.39 points beat the record of 114.13 he set in 2020.

That was too loud, over the ice and on the jury papers, for Vincent Zhou. Chen’s main competition here was excellent, though, as he looked relaxed and confident throughout his program nailing the same four-toed quad ring that Chen did for a score of 112.78 which was also his personal best score.

Ilya Malinin, 17, jumped to third, ahead of veteran Jason Brown, 103.46 to 100.84, in a superb ski show for most men’s courses.

“I mean, it’s amazing to have such strong competitors in the United States, especially heading into an Olympic season,” Chen said. “No matter who goes, we will have a really strong team there. But you focus on yourself, I can’t control anything else.”

Chen’s struggles at Skate America in October was astonishing given his 14th consecutive winning streak since the 2018 Olympics. His quick return to the top began a week later with a win at Skate Canada, and on Saturday, he was as good as ever.

Shen, 22, and two-time Japanese Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will be the favorites in the Beijing Olympics. No man has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals in the modern era. Chen hasn’t lost to Hanyu since Pyeongchang, when a failure in the short program wiped out Chen’s chances. Hanyu recently won the Japanese awards, but his short program score was four points lower than Chen’s on Saturday.

Chu, 21, has ridden something of a rollercoaster in his senior career and was highlighted with a bronze medal at the 2019 worlds, three US silvers behind Chen, and a Skate America victory earlier this year.

Last March, he collapsed in the short program at the World Championships and didn’t even qualify for free skating. This forced him to participate in the Nibelhorn Cup to secure a third men’s Olympic position for the United States; In clutch performance, he won.

Now, it looks like Chu is headed for his second Olympics; He was sixth in South Korea, and one spot behind Chen.

Malinin, the rising force on the American scene after a solid previous season in the junior ranks, has been described by his fans as “the quadruple god”. It certainly lived up to these bills with a program packed with quads and some dynamic courses.

Malinin said of his grade: “My reaction was surprising to see him, because I was dreaming of getting over 100, but I never knew I could do it. Now that I think about it, if you put in the time and effort you can achieve anything.”

Brown, 27, was the US national team at the 2014 Sochi Games, and took a bronze medal in the team event when he performed the free skating. He was beaten at the 2018 Olympics, but once again showed his staying power in the short program on Saturday.

Getting to Nashville may have been logistically more challenging than performing for Brown, given the blizzard and frigid temperatures this week.

“After 33 hours of travel, 5 canceled flights, 4 airlines changed, 3 airports, 2 states, a night in Atlanta, a rental car, and lots of help… We’re officially in Nashville!” Post on social media.

He then set up a powerful, high-speed flowing routine that got the audience to their feet before Brown finished booming, then sat on the ice, enjoying the cheers.

However, unable to match Quad Malinin, the 100.84-point Brown put him in fourth – with that perpetual smile on his face anyway.

“For me the only thing I knew was the reaction of the crowd, which was great to see them all standing on their feet,” he said. Then the results appeared. But for me, that’s what you can do in that moment, put your best foot forward and snowboard. I can only win my game.”

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