Nathan Chen will lead the United States in men's figure skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Vincent Zhou and Jason Brown will join Chen on Team USA in February.
Chen won his sixth straight gold medal in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Sunday. Dick Button in 1952 was the last male American to reign supreme for six successive years.
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🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 x <a href="https://twitter.com/nathanwchen?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nathanwchen</a><a href="https://twitter.com/USFigureSkating?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USFigureSkating</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ToyotaUSChamps22?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ToyotaUSChamps22</a> <a href="https://t.co/A87kNuOBIM">pic.twitter.com/A87kNuOBIM</a>
A total score of 328.01 helped Chen coast to an easy victory in Nashville, Tennessee. A bronze medalist in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the 22-year-old heads to Beijing as the Americans' best hope at capturing gold in men's figure skating.
Even if he had encountered an epic collapse at the U.S. Championships, Chen's place was all but assured. The results of the competition left the other two spots up in the air.
Thanks to an incredible free skate, Ilia Malinin vaulted into second place and collected silver. Vincent Zhou narrowly edged out Jason Brown by 0.38 points for bronze. Choosing between the three wasn't easy for U.S. Figure Skating.
David Kane @DKTNNS
This is hardly a Ross Miner conundrum from 2018: Malinin landed four spectacular quads after winning both his Junior GP events earlier this fall. <br><br>Brown has a much lower scoring ceiling but also a higher floor, which is why I might argue to send him over Zhou. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ToyotaUSChamps22?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ToyotaUSChamps22</a>
Malinin outperformed Zhou and Brown and has skated well on the junior circuit this year. Still, the Virginia native only turned 17 in December. Sending him to Beijing would have meant placing a lot of pressure on his young shoulders.
Zhou and Brown had a clear experience edge on Malinin. The former was sixth, one spot behind Chen, at the 2018 Winter Olympics. The latter competed in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and finished ninth.
Their showings at the U.S. Championships provided the decision-makers with pause regarding each skater as to his Olympic suitability.
Ultimately, Malinin was the last man out and will serve as first alternate.
The United States will hope one of Chen, Zhou or Brown will be the first American since Evan Lysacek in 2010 to stand atop the Olympic podium in men's figure skating.