A figure skater from Utah in the Olympics?
It could happen, just four years from now.
Salt Lake City’s Nathan Chen ran away with the men’s junior division title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston on Thursday, illustrating how the former West High School student is in prime position to become a top senior-level skater next year and a strong contender for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea.
"I felt pretty good," Chen told IceNetwork.com. "Overall, I thought I had a good time."
The 14-year-old scored a junior men’s record 223.93 points to outdistance second-place Jordan Moeller by nearly 33 points for his fourth national championship, dominating the free skate at TD Garden on Thursday almost as much as he had with his record-shattering short program two days earlier.
Although Chen fell on his opening triple Axel, he landed his next seven straight triple jumps and scored 144.32 points — 10.07 points better than his nearest competitor.
In the short program, Chen used a triple Axel and a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, along with strong footwork and tremendous spins, to amass 79.61 points and obliterate the previous men’s junior record for the short program by 10 points.
He was also a whopping 16.15 points better than his closest competitor, at that point.
Figure skating is one winter sport in which Utah has not produced any Olympians in recent years.
But Chen has been a rising star in the sport for years — he was the junior champion two years ago, as well, and won two novice-level titles before that — and last month finished third at the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in Japan.
He also won gold medals at Junior Grand Prix events in Mexico and Belarus this season, and told IceNetwork.com he plans to move up to the senior level next year. He’s likely to be named Sunday to the U.S. team for the Junior World Championships on March 10-16 in Bulgaria.
Born and raised in Salt Lake City and still representing the Salt Lake Figure Skating Club, Chen now trains under coaches Rafael Arutunian, Nadia Kanaeva, and Vera Arutunian in Artesia, Calif. He also works alongside aspiring 2014 Olympians Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon, whose junior record score of 213.76 from six years ago he broke.
Two other Utahns were scheduled to compete on Thursday.
Angela Wang of Salt Lake City was expected to compete in the senior ladies short program, while West Jordan’s Kendrick Weston was entered in the intermediate men’s division short program.
Two other Utahns competed Thursday.
Angela Wang of Salt Lake City was 12th in the senior women’s short program with 54.40 points, while West Jordan’s Kendrick Weston was sixth in the intermediate men’s division short program with 35.67 points. Weston competes in the free skate Friday, while Wang’s free skate is Saturday.
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