That Certain Something Special; Olympic Anticipation
Figure skating is an amazing combination of athletics and presentation. Every so often, a skater takes the ice, either in practice, a show or a competition and the audience senses something unique; special is happening on the ice. Although everyone may be awe of difficult jumps, or impressed by classic grace and flow, there can also be a spark and undeniable connection. Charisma. Their names are well known to almost everyone; Peggy Fleming, Dick Button, Dorothy Hamill, Michelle Kwan, Johnny Weir. Something special.
Well known on the competition circuit at the ripe old age of 10, that connection was so strong, that ABC News chose a certain multi-talented young skater as a person of the week back in 2010. Nathan Chen, then won his first national title in 2011 at the novice level.
I was first introduced to Nathan in an amazing number titled “Nathan and the Spider” choreographed by the talented Joel Dear. The whimsical choreography and Nathan’s unique presentation invited the audience to emotionally play along on the ice. That did it. I became a member of the Nathan Chen fan club. I wasn’t the only one to take notice of this amazing young skater as he moved up the skating ladder to national prominence. His spectacular quad jumps, captivating stage presence, and ability to charm the audience and judges have placed him on the top rung .
After a third-place finish at U.S. Nationals, the 4 Continents International competition showed Nathan at his best, recording the highest short program, free skate and total scores ever by a U.S. skater. Then disaster struck and injuries had caused some unexpected delays. Hip surgery in February 2016, prevented Nathan from going on to the world championships. The world wondered if he could stage a comeback.
Fortunately, a fast recovery, and what he refers to as a “reset,” put Nathan back in his zone with a stellar competition season, capturing the title of US National Champion last January.
Showing how unpredictable this sport can be, an equipment problem, from an untimely boot breakdown at the World Championships, created instability on jump landings, making his quad jumps almost impossible. Nathan had no skate-ready boots on deck, and it resulted in a disappointing fourth place finish, with that podium at World’s still on Nathan’s wish list.
That was then. This is now! As our current US National Champion, Nathan began this season’s competitions easily taking Gold in his first 2 competitions: the US International Figure Skating Classic and The Rostelecom Cup. His next appearance will be at Skate America November 24-26. If everything goes as planned, we will all be cheering Nathan Chen on as a member of Team USA in the 2018 Olympics. Something special, indeed.