Nathan Chen has been waiting four years to get back on the Olympic stage and take aim at a gold medal. Now that he has it, he’s still trying to process what he just accomplished.
“It’s just a whirlwind right now,” Chen told NBC’s Andrea Joyce following his dominant free skate. “Everything is happening so fast, but I’m so happy. That program was just a lot of fun to skate. At the end, I just had a blast out there, so I’m really grateful.”
Chen was the final skater to take the ice at Capital Indoor Stadium on Thursday thanks to his record-breaking score in the short program earlier in the week. He needed 196.09 points to overtake Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama for first place, and he did more than enough with a 218.63 to earn men’s singles gold.
Skating to Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” Chen was concentrating both on his routine and how it stacked up against Kagiyama.
“After I finished the last jump, I thought I was pretty much close,” Chen said. “I was keeping track of what was going on, so I kind of had an idea, but of course I was thinking about that mistake that I made.”
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As if winning gold wasn’t enough, the setting for Chen’s victory added to the significance of it. Both of his parents were born in China, and he didn’t take the chance to compete in Beijing for granted.
“It means the world,” he said. “My mom was born here, so of course I have that family connection. It’s amazing to have this opportunity.”
Now that he finally has his Olympic gold medal, Chen can take some time to sit back and appreciate his triumph.
“I can’t even describe it. You can’t imagine what it might feel like, but it’s just amazing.”