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Nathan Chen, USA win silver in team figure skating event

American skater Vincent Zhou tests positive for COVID-19

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Nathan Chen (USA) competes in the Team Event - Men Single Figure Skating at the Capital Indoor Stadium, 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022.

Just one more Olympic medal and Nathan Chen will have a complete set.

The Salt Lake City figure skater on Monday added a silver in the team event to the bronze he brought back from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in the same event. A gold in the men’s singles competition, which begins with the short programs Tuesday and culminates with the free skate on Thursday, would complete his collection.

Russia won the team event with 74 points, followed by the USA with 65 and Japan with 63.

Chen was at the training facility getting ready for the singles competition and wasn’t able to immediately celebrate with his teammates. That would have to be saved for Monday night with the awards ceremony at the medals plaza - though it will be without one teammate.

Vincent Zhou, who skated Sunday’s free skate in Chen’s stead, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. He will test again and will be able to compete Tuesday if the test is negative, US Figure Skating said in a release. Zhou placed second behind Chen at the recent national championships and became the first skater to beat Chen since the 2018 Olympics when he did so at the season-opening U.S. Grand Prix.

Following his opening skate, Chen said the coronavirus is a constant concern.

“I know the rest of the athletes are all very aware of the situation and trying to stay safe themselves and help everyone else stay safe,” he said. “We’ve all trained four years and longer for this experience and none of us really want it to go away because of a test.”

Chen set the tone for a Team USA medal on Friday at Capital Indoor Arena by opening these Beijing Olympics with the second-highest short program score in the history of the sport.

It was the first Olympic short program Chen had skated since the 2018 men’s singles event, when a disastrous skate placed the world champion 17th and bumped him out of medal contention.

“I’m certainly happy that I have this opportunity to compete in the short program and, you know, put down a whole program that actually I feel good about,” Chen said Friday. “And yeah, whatever I can take from this going forward, I can take and whatever I can’t I can just leave behind and move on.”

Chen opted not to skate Sunday’s men’s free skate portion of the team competition, opening that spot up to Vincent Zhou, who took third.

Following Chen’s dynamic performance, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won the ice dance portion Friday and Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier placed third in pairs. That put the United States in second place, where it stayed for the rest of the competition.

Karen Chen, who is not related to Nathan, skated both the women’s short program and free skate, placing fifth and fourth respectively. In the free skate, Russia’s Kamila Valieva became the first woman to complete a quad jump in competition.

Knierim and Frazier were fifth in their second go-round at pairs. However, a win by Madison Chock and Evan Bates in team free dance secured the USA’s spot on the podium.

The USA took bronze in the two previous Olympic team figure skating competitions. Only five nations competed, but Nikita Katsalapov, the captain of the Russian team, said he hopes participation will grow.

“I believe that it brings in this team spirit, a special kind of team spirit where all your friends are sitting there giving you all their energy,” he said via a translator, “and think it’s a great thing for figure skating.”