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Figure skater Nathan Chen kicks off redemptive Beijing Olympics with a bang

Four years after a disappointing turn in Pyeongchang, the United States’ Nathan Chen is on a path for redemption. Based off his performance Friday in the figure skating short program in the team event, he has a good chance of getting it.

Chen’s showing at the Capital Indoor Stadium with his “La Boheme” program clenched a season-high international score of 111.71 — winning the segment and putting the U.S. team on top in the team competition with two more days of skating ahead.

Japan’s Shoma Uno scored 105.46 to earn second in the short program, and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Mark Kondratiuk finished third with 95.81.

As a team, the United States is in first place with 28 points. The Russian Olympic Committee is in second with 26 points and China is third with 21.

Following his performance, a humble Chen said the effort all comes back to the team.

“As we’ve seen since 2018, even if someone doesn’t have the best skate,
we have an incredibly strong team to back us all up,” he said. “That’s certainly the case this time around. I’m happy I did my part and skated as good as I can.”

At the Pyeongchang Games in 2018, Chen notoriously struggled in the men’s short program in the individual competition.

The 22-year-old from Utah, a three-time world champion, appears ready to take on the Olympics this time around. It’s still unclear whether Chen will perform Sunday during the second day of the team event.

“There’s a lot of different variables in play,” he said. “We have a really strong team, so we have a lot of chess pieces to play with, and whatever is the strongest piece at that time is the strongest piece at that time.”

By Jaclyn Diaz | NPR

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