What’s next for Nathan Chen after yet another stunning performance, this one with five clean quadruple jumps, a striking interpretive affinity to his music and the mental strength to forget the fall in the short program that had left him some eight points behind longtime rival Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan?
Pandemic-related uncertainties make his planning uncertain. He would like to go to the World Team Trophy, still scheduled for next month in Japan. He has no idea if there will be any shows for him to do this summer. Even the usual fall events could be affected should there be resurgence of COVID cases.
That means Chen’s attention could turn completely to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics before he expects.
Every U.S. man who has won worlds the year before the Olympics has gone on to win Olympic gold. That has happened five times. Two other times, a U.S. man won the Olympics after not winning the pre-Olympic worlds.
But Chen, 21, has learned from his 2018 Olympic experience not to get ahead of himself.
“If I try to take anything in bites that are too big, I’ll end up choking a little bit,” Chen said. “It’s probably better for me to take things piece by piece right now and build up for the Games.”
Despite having finished just sixth at the 2017 World Championships, Chen did so well on the Grand Prix circuit the next fall that a surprising buzz began about him winning the gold medal in South Korea. He admits having been caught up in the chatter and thinking too much about the result rather than what he needed to do for a real shot at it.