LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Nathan Chen signalled his Olympic intentions Saturday with an emphatic triumph at the US Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, California.
Although the three men who will represent the United States at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang next month won’t be officially announced until Sunday, Chen is sure to head that squad after landing five quadruple jumps in his free skate to continue his unbeaten 2017-18 campaign.
The 18-year-old finished with a total of 315.23 points – 40.72 points more than silver-medallist Ross Miner, who rose from fifth place after the short program to finish second on 274.51 points.
Vincent Zhou climbed from sixth to third with a total of 273.83 points as Adam Rippon settled for fourth on 268.34 and Jason Brown, third after the short program, settled for sixth.
Chen, who had missed training because of illness, singled one planned triple Axel in a still outstanding display.
He’ll go to South Korea as America’s best hope for a medal in an individual figure skating event.
“There’s another big step to the Games,” he said. “But I’m so excited for it. This is so exactly what I’ve wanted my entire life. I’m ready.”
Miner’s Olympic berth could be less secure as selectors take a range of competitive performances into consideration.
World junior champ Zhou attempted five quads on Saturday, but three were judged under-rotated and one was downgraded.
Rippon and Brown, both national champions before Chen, came into the championships with solid credentials and were lying second and third after the short program.
But Rippon fell on his lone quadruple jump on Saturday while Brown fell on his lone quad attempt.
Earlier Saturday, the husband and wife duo of Chris Knierim and Alexa Scimeca Knierim won pairs title to set themselves up as the United States’ lone pairs team at Pyeongchang.