Pyeongchang, South Korea • Nathan Chen’s first performance on Olympic ice was one to forget. The gold-medal hopeful fell and committed three major errors during his event to kick off the team event last week. Commentator Johnny Weir called it “the worst short program I’ve ever seen from Nathan Chen.” Chen took off his skates, waded into a sea of reporters, and assessed his disappointing effort.
Then he got right back on the ice.
Just minutes after speaking with the media in the mixed zone at the Gangneung Ice Arena, Chen checked his schedule and realized he still had time to practice. Chen skated for about 20 minutes with his group, including American Adam Rippon.
“I figure I would skate until I was told to get off the ice,” Chen said at a news conference here Thursday, one day before he competes in his first individual Olympic event. “… It was nice to be able to redo the things I didn’t do well in the short program to sort of settle my mind.”
How did he skate?
“Honestly, that practice session was really, really good,” he said. “It was a little disappointing to put a program like that out in competition and not 10 minutes later skate as I wanted to.”
Chen will skate in the short program here Friday morning (6 p.m. MT Thursday) looking to redeem himself after a rocky start to his first Olympics.
“There are always benefits, always good things and bad things that come out of every performance,” Chen said, reflecting back on his short program in the team event. “To be able to be on Olympic ice is something I should try to enjoy more than I did in the competition. … [But] it happened, try to learn from this. I put all the bad things out there and now I can just go up from here.”
Chen left the athlete village this week to train in Chuncheon, about 60 miles inland from where he will compete in Gangneung.
“I chose to do that just because of the limited ice they had available to us at the practice rink,” he said. “It wasn’t even on the main sheet, so I just decided I would prefer to have a little bit of extra time on the ice to work things out.”
Chen said he has been skating well in practice.
“I’m just working out issues that I was dealing with in the short program, where I need to be thinking in terms of prepping for jumps and things I need to be cleaning up. I’m really exited to start competing.”
A few other notes from Chen’s news conference:
• Which quads will he do in the free skate later in the week?
There have been some rumors that Chen could attempt six quads in the long program. The skater essentially dismissed that idea Thursday.
“I think it’s too risky of a program as of now,” he said. “I don’t really feel as though that’s something I’m going to try to set my mind to right now. I think five quads is something I’m very confident about.”
Chen also said he likely will be performing his lutz, salchow, flip and toe loop.
• Chen will be wearing different skates than the ones he wore during his team event.
“This is pair No. 2 that I brought here,” he said. “The ones that I wore in the team event are not the same ones. Those are a little older. These are a little newer. The stiffness is good. They have broken in sufficiently. I’m pretty confident in these boots.”
• Chen, a big Utah Jazz fan, was asked about the team’s 11-game winning streak.
“Oh my God, I’m so happy for them, he said. “So crazy. They’ve even killing it. I’ve been trying to keep up with them through NBA TV on my phone. I’m really proud of them.”
He also was asked to list his five “all-time NBA All-Stars.” Chen’s answer: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry — and Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell.
• Chen will follow Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu, whom Chen still considers to be among his top competitors despite an ankle injury. Chen said the only difference about skating after Hanyu will be waiting for the skater’s diehard fans to finish throwing stuffed Winnie the Pooh bears on the ice when he finishes his routine.
“I’ve skated after Yuzuru a handful of times,” Chen said with a laugh. “The only thing I can take away from it is just be ready for the Pooh bears to rain down. The good thing is it takes awhile for them to clear it off and it gives me time to get ready.”