The Winter Olympic Games have barely begun and all eyes are already on American figure skater Nathan Chen. In what is being hailed as a redemption story of sorts—Chen had a few tough falls during his debut at the 2018 games in South Korea—the 22-year-old kicked off his Olympic return in Beijing with an incredible showing during the men’s singles team event, helping the U.S. team take first place.
“It’s so easy to fall into the trap of being like, ‘Oh my gosh, the pressure’s building. Everything’s so stressful. Everything’s so scary,'” Chen recently told People. “I think that feeling in that way isn’t necessarily a bad thing all the time, but just being able to remind yourself like, yes, this is a pretty stressful time, but at the same time, there’s a lot more to life. There’s so much more than this individual competition than this one shot.”
Here are five things you need to know about Nathan Chen, the figure skater favored to take home the gold in the individual short program and free skate.
The basics. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Chen picked up skating when he was only three after watching his older brothers play hockey. He’s currently studying statistics and data science at Yale University. He is an Olympic bronze medalist (2018) and a three-time World champion (2018, 2019, and 2021).
The figure skater, whose parents immigrated from China, says he was also inspired by famed Asian American athletes Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi. “Growing up in Salt Lake City, where most of my classmates and fellow athletes were predominately white, you don’t see that reflection of yourself as easily,” he told Yale News in 2021. “I see myself in these athletes and I see how capable they are and how talented they are. If they can do it, hopefully, I can do the same thing too. Being able to see a face like yours helps a lot as an athlete.”
He’s already made history. Chen became the first man in figure skating history to land five quadruple jumps in a single performance during the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. According to People, he is often referred to as the “Quad King.”
His 2018 comeback was inspirational. Though Chen experienced more than one fall during his 2018 showing in PyeongChang, he ultimately came in fifth thanks to an awe-inspiring final skate. He also took home a bronze medal for the team competition.