GANGNEUNG (AFP) – American prodigy Nathan Chen became the first figure skater to land six quads as he set an Olympic record in the free skate at the Pyeongchang Winter Games on Saturday.
Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu clinched the title with compatriot Shoma Uno second and Javier Fernandez of Spain third.
Chen, 18, was out of contention for a medal after bombing on Friday in a nervy short programme that left him languishing in 17th place going into the decisive day.
But he hoisted himself into fifth place at the end after pulling off a remarkable free skate that earned him 215.08 points, one of the highest scores ever seen in the sport.
Chen did it on the back of six quads – four rotations in the air – breaking his own record of five set last year.
“I have been working on it for a while. It’s never really fully come together,” Chen said, adding that he decided to throw in the unprecedented sixth quad after his implosion a day earlier.
“I was like, ‘I already fell so many times (in this week), I might as well go out and throw everything down and see what happens.’”
Chen had been expected to be the main threat to Japanese favourite Hanyu, who retained his Olympic title in style.
But the young American got stagefright on the world’s biggest stage.
That at least meant that he was able to throw caution to the wind in his free skate to “Mao’s Last Dancer” by Christopher Gordon.
“After having such a disastrous short programme and being so low in the ranking than usually ever, allowed me to just completely forget about results,” said Chen, after living up to his nickname, “Qaud King”.“Just completely focus on enjoying myself out on the ice and getting rid of expectations helped a lot.”