Nathan Chen Headlines 2022 US Figure Skating Olympics Men's Team

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 10, 2022

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 09: Nathan Chen skates in the Men's Free Skate during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Bridgestone Arena on January 09, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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.

U.S. Figure Skating @USFigureSkating

Your team is complete for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Beijing2022?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Beijing2022</a>! <a href="https://t.co/AFGOfeCi6u">pic.twitter.com/AFGOfeCi6u</a>

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.

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ† 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&amp;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&amp;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.

Helene Elliott @helenenothelen

Brown's skating was beautiful, as always, but he fell on the only quad jump he attempted and without a quad, he won't win an Olympic medal. Malinin is in his 1st year at the senior level and delivered under pressure, but are the Olympics too big a challenge?

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.