Nathan Chen obliterated the U.S. men’s short program record by more than six points, earning a whopping 106.39 for his “Le Corsaire” program. The 17 year-old took American figure skating to a new level, landing two quadruple jumps in his short program — opening with a quadruple Lutz-triple toe loop followed by a quadruple flip.
“Finally! This is the program I’ve been looking for all season,” Chen said immediately after his performance. “I finally put out a good short program. It’s definitely a huge step for me and I’m really happy with the score that I got, that was huge.”
Finishing in a distant second place was 25-year-old Ross Miner who took the safe approach to the program — opting just for triple jumps, which turned out to be a good strategy. He finished more than 17 points behind Chen with a total of 88.67.
“In the beginning of the season I was definitely doubting myself when I would go out there and skate,” he said. “I kind of told myself today I want to go have fun out there and do what I do every day.”
In third place is another teenager, 16-year-old Vincent Zhou, who was eighth in this competition last season. Zhou opened his Sam Smith program with an impressive quadruple Salchow, and despite a tiny bobble on his triple Axel, was clean on all of his other technical elements as well. He finished with 87.85 points.
Sitting in fourth place is Jason Brown with 79.23 points.
Max Aaron, the 2016 silver medalist, had perhaps the worst performance of his career, finishing in 12th place after making mistakes on all three jumping passes. His total of 72.54 has all but eliminated his hopes of a trip to the 2017 World Championships.
It was an epic showdown in the short dance in Kansas City, with three of the top teams in the world facing off once again in chase of the 2017 U.S. title. Last year’s champions, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani took the early lead, and hold a slim two-point lead in to Saturday’s free dance.
Skating to a blues-hip hop fusion of Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life,” the Shibutani’s earned the highest component scores of the evening, finishing with 82.42 points — a new U.S. record.
“I think for us our mindset is based on the confidence that we had in our performance today,” Alex said. “We followed our game plan and we’re very happy with how we skated tonight.”
Finishing in second were the 2015 champions, Madison Chock and Evan Bates with 79.96 points. The duo earned level four on each of their technical elements except for the midline step sequence.
Nipping on their heels are last year’s bronze medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who finished with 79.72 points.
The 2015 pewter medalists, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker were fourth with 72.60 points.