The men’s figure skating at the 2022 Beijing Olympics is expected to come down to Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan who will aim to land his first quadruple axel jump in a competition and Nathan Chen from the U.S. who freely showcases five quadruple jumps.
Chen earned a score of 212.62 points in the men’s singles free program at U.S. Figure Skating held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday. His total score was 382.01 points with 115.39 points from the short program held on the previous day, which earned him the sixth consecutive win at the competition, followed by Ilia Malinin with 302.48 points and Vincent Zhou with 290.16 points. As the U.S. skating union selects athletes who represent the country in the Olympics based on their performance at championships and previous contests, Chen’s Olympic participation is highly likely.
Chen is the biggest competitor who can stop Hanyu’s three consecutive wins at Olympics. Chen won the last three World Figure Skating Championships in 2018, 2019, and 2021, except the 2020 championships which were not held. He also won three consecutive Grand Prix of Figure Skating Finals from 2018 to 2020, showcasing his improved performance. However, for his first Olympic experience at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, he made a series of jump mistakes in the short program and was ranked 17th. Despite having earned a top score in the free program, he failed to win a medal and was ranked in the fifth position.
Chen has a high success rate of quadruple jumps in competitions. He can make quadruple revolutions for the flip, lutz, loop, salchow, and toe loop jumps. “Stupid things happen all the time. Should I expect it? Probably not,” said Chen after successfully making five quadruple jumps in the championship free program, showcasing his confidence.
Hanyu won gold medals in both the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. However, he had to take eight months off due to an ankle injury last year and did not participate in two Grand Prix Finals in the 2021-2022 season. Some expected Hanyu might not compete at the Olympics but he earned his sixth consecutive win at the Japan Figure Skating Championships in December and became qualified.
Hanyu showcases stable jumps and is expressive. He also has a strong skating foundation so much as he always earns the Grade of Execution (GOE) for all elements. The Japanese skater is likely to try the quadruple axel jump, which has not been succeeded by any figure skater in competitions, to compete against Chen. He tried the jump in the Japan Championships but received a downgrade due to insufficient revolutions. “I cannot stop the axel jump,” Hanyu said. “I will make it for myself and everybody who cheers for me.”
Dong-Wook Kim firstname.lastname@example.org