Who is Nathan Chen?

2018 Winter Olympic Games - Season 2018

Nathan Chen is a U.S. figure skater from Salt Lake City. After winning the 2017 National title, he won the Four Continents Championship, a major international competition. He finished sixth at the year’s world championship, but remains a podium threat for PyeongChang. 

Figure skating beginnings

Chen is the youngest of five children, and was born May 5, 1999 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He wanted to be a hockey goalie, and started skating at age 3, after his hometown hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. He added ballet classes to improve his skating artistry, and was in performances of the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty.

Chen won the novice men’s national title in 2010 and was invited to the exhibition of champions gala. He told NBC’s Andrea Joyce that he thought he could compete in the Olympics, probably in 2018.

Chen won one more novice national title, two junior national titles and a junior world bronze medal before joining the senior ranks.

Major competitions/ medals

Once in the senior division, Chen placed eighth in 2015. By 2016, he improved to land on the podium with a bronze medal. He was named to the world team that year, but in the exhibition of championships gala performance, he injured his hip and was off the ice for six months.

However, Chen was able to rebound and win a silver medal at the exclusive Grand Prix Final in December 2016. At the 2017 Nationals he won gold easily – by a margin more than 50 points. He also won the Four Continents Championships (held in the same venue that will host figure skating at the 2018 Olympics). He made his world championships debut in 2017 as a medal contender but ultimately finished sixth; this was partly due to nerves, boot problems, and some uncharacteristic mistakes.

Breakout moment

In his own words:  The [2016-17] season was my breakthrough season for me I think. That was my first year on the international circuit as a senior, and I had never competed against the top level skaters. That season I got the chance to, and quickly earned points that were very competitive to the men and occasionally ahead of them.


Chen’s strength is not only in his ability to execute quadruple jumps, but the number of quads he can pack into a program.

Records held

Chen is the first skater to attempt six quadruple jumps in a free skate, done at the world championships in 2017. All six quads were judged fully rotated, even though he fell on two of them, and he ultimately finished sixth. At the 2017 Nationals, he was the first skater ever to land five quadruple jumps in a single program.

Chen landed a quad loop at the September 2017 U.S. International Classic, held in his native Salt Lake City, and became the first skater ever to land five different quad jumps in competition.

Chen’s short program score, free skate score, and overall scores from 2017 Nationals were all U.S. records. He was the youngest men’s champion since 1966.

Top quotes

“I feel like he’s a little brother. I’m really proud of what he’s been able to achieve and in practice he pushes me to be unafraid and be better than I was the day before.” Training partner Adam Rippon

“Nathan Chen is superhuman!” Training partner Mariah Bell

Olympic experience

Chen would make his Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

Outside the rink

He started getting into photography and recently got a GoPro and is waiting for the perfect opportunity to start using it. He likes to take photos out on the water or attend events to take photos of his friends and the scenery.

Chen wants to eventually attend medical school.

Social media

Facebook: Nathan Chen on Facebook

Twitter: @NathanWChen

Instagram: @NathanWChen

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