leaps from disaster to Olympic history
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[February 17, 2018]
By Elaine Lies
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) -
American jumping ace Nathan Chen lived up to his reputation on
Saturday, redeeming himself with quadruple jumps after a pair of
disastrous skates in Pyeongchang and making Olympic history into the
bargain with a brilliant free skate.
Even though he ended out of the medals, Chen's clean landing of an
unprecedented six quads - the first time anybody has done so in the
Olympics - helped him vault from 17th to fifth place on the weight
of the free skate.
Mao Asada of Japan, who won silver in Vancouver 2010, had a similar
experience in Sochi in 2014, following a terrible short skate with a
stellar free program that lifted her from far down the ranks up to
sixth place and left her in tears.
Chen said that his fall and the other mistakes of Friday's short
program proved strangely freeing.
"Honestly, I wasn't nervous at all," the 18-year-old told reporters
after his performance, saying that doing so badly led to his
decision to add another quad to his program.
"I sort of planned it yesterday after I had such a bad short. I
might as well just go for everything right now, I have literally
nothing to lose so I might as well just go for it."
After repeatedly saying that the Olympics were just another
competition for him prior to his short skate on Friday, Chen -
taking part in his first Olympics - ruefully admitted that the
expectations and the occasion got the best of him.
"As much as I tried to deny it I guess I really did feel the
pressure a lot, from especially before the short program, thinking
about medals and all that, things that were completely out of my
control," he said.
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Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men Single free skating
competition final - Gangneung, South Korea - February 17, 2018 -
Nathan Chen of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
"That just tightened me up and made me really cautious out on the
ice, and that's not the right way to skate."
Chen said earlier this week that after his poor skate in the team
competition he had gone straight to the rink for 20 minutes of
practice that had helped settle his head.
But Friday was different.
"There was no ice time, or I totally would have (practiced)," he
said. "I went home and lay in bed and tried to relax a bit."
In the end, he was philosophical.
"I was glad I was able to show myself and everyone else that I can
bounce back from a bad performance. I'm human, I make mistakes, and
unfortunately I had a really bad time," he said.
"I'm really happy with what I did here and tomorrow is another day."
(Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)
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