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Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP
Nathan Chen plays throughout the males’s short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, Jan. four, 2018. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
SAN JOSE, Calif. — With what he known as a ‘watered-down’ program, Nathan Chen simply took the lead in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Thursday evening in San Jose.
“I felt alright,” the Salt Lake local stated with a shrug after incomes the most sensible ranking in the short program 104.45 at the tournament that may also make a decision who represents the U.S. at the Olympics subsequent month. “I watered down the program. But I think that was a smart move, especially considering circumstances going into this event. I’m happy with tonight.”
The “circumstances” to which Chen refers is an undisclosed sickness that saved the 18-year-old protecting U.S. champion from his standard coaching agenda. He’s been tight-lipped about the main points of what ailed him and is equivocal about whether or not or no longer he’s at 100 %.
“I’m getting there, basically 100 percent,” he stated. “Over the past two weeks, I was really sick. It was just a challenge to get through practices, but I’m basically good now.”
Chen, whose leaping talent has helped propel the recreation towards extra quads than ever, modified his quad lutz to a quad toe, however he landed two quads in his short program. He hasn’t misplaced a contest this season.
“Lutz the whole week has not been my forte,” Chen stated. “I thought they’d be my two highest-percentage jumps.”
Adam Rippon, who broke his foot twelve months in the past Saturday, sits in second-place with 96.52 issues, whilst Jason Brown is in 3rd position with a ranking of 93.23. Neither of them even tried quads of their short program, however each have them deliberate for his or her unfastened skate on Saturday evening.
“I am super happy for (Adam),” Chen stated. “He skated an amazing short program. He does it all the time in practice, so I didn’t really expect anything less from him.”
Rippon stated his comeback is made from all of his previous heartbreaks, in addition to his triumphs.
“Every disappointment has made me so much stronger,” he stated. “I’m just a completely different person.”
Each of the males had to conquer struggles to earn their most sensible ratings Thursday evening. Chen struggled in apply the day gone by, whilst Rippon stated his six-minute warmup let him know he used to be too tight.
“My mind was not in the right place yesterday,” Chen stated. “Having a day to recalculate definitely helped.”
Rippon stated he used to be simply thankful to be competing once more — one thing he hasn’t at all times favored.
“I just feel very in the moment here,” he stated. “I feel so grateful to have this moment again. I know what it’s like to sit out. I’m just going for it, and if I go for it, I’m proud of myself.”
Chen, who will strive 5 quads in Saturday’s unfastened skate, admitted that he felt a distinction in the power at this championship tournament, as this can be a important determiner of which skaters will constitute the U.S. in Pyeongchang subsequent month.
“I definitely feel the energy is different than last year,” he stated. “But, ultimately, I have to do what I set out to do and focus on my own goals.”
Chen stated he used to be simplest minimally acutely aware of how neatly the males in entrance of him have been skating in Thursday’s tournament.
“I make sure I’m in my zone,” stated Chen, who become the youngest U.S. champion in 51 years with a record-setting ranking final yr. “I’ll always get nervous regardless of how big or small the competition is. Usually, once the music starts, the nerves kind of switch to confidence. Then I let myself go into auto drive, and let my training kick in.”