Nathan Chen heads into Skate America this week chasing a record fifth consecutive title. The last, and only, other American man to capture five Skate America titles was Todd Eldredge (1992, 1994-1997 — he finished fourth in 1993).
In a USOPC conference call on Monday Chen stated he is excited about the Olympic season and the opportunity to put out his programs in Las Vegas this week.
When asked if he had any pre-competition habits, the three-time World champion said before the 2018 Olympic Winter Games he had a lot of rituals heading into competition “that I swore by … but I did not skate well. So now my new ritual is to not have any rituals. I try to avoid that. Every day is a new day, every opportunity is a new opportunity and every competition is going to be different.”
So much has changed for Chen in the past four years. Having the opportunity to attend Yale and be around non-skating people gave him a broader perspective of himself, his sport and also of the world outside the skating rink. “I have spent my entire life in an ice rink. But fortunately I was able to also go to college and that gave me a little more exposure of what the real world is like,” the 22-year-old said. “I think we (athletes) are so sheltered in this little bubble, always seeing the same people and not really knowing what else is going on. Over the past four years I have had a lot of opportunities to learn more about what is going on in the world.
“The previous Olympics did give me the insight to realize that skating, while it is incredibly important and the thing I have done literally every single day of my life since I was 3 … it is something that is a passion project for me. All of that sounds a little like I don’t necessarily care that much about skating, but skating is important and is what I have been doing all my life.
“Over the past few years I have had really great opportunities to compete. I know I have a limited number of competitions in my life, and now I make the most out of every competition and enjoy myself as best as I can. I find that when I am able to adopt that mentality I am able to skate a lot better and can enjoy it rather than worrying about what the outcome will be. At some point I will have to take a step away from skating. I wont be able to skate the rest of my life.”
His programs this season, choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne, are “Eternity” and “Nemesis” by Benjamin Clementine for the short program, and a Mozart medley for the free.
Chen said he is looking forward to nationals and doing his best to “qualify a spot on Team USA and do my best at the Olympics.”