Nathan Chen Headlines US Figure Skating Olympics Men's Team 2018

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2018

Nathan Chen performs during the men's free skate event at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

U.S. Figure Skating nominated Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou to represent the United States in men's figure skating for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

Chen, who won the U.S. Figure Skating Champions on Saturday night and is undefeated this season, is the headliner of the group and was the only drama-free choice among the candidates.

Rippon was considered a heavy favorite to earn an Olympic bid alongside Chen coming into Saturday night, while Jason Brown—who competed in the 2014 Sochi Games—was seriously in the running as well. But Rippon and Brown each struggled in the free skate, with Rippon dropping from second place after his short program to fourth and Brown going from third to sixth.

Ross Miner, meanwhile, leapfrogged from sixth to second place after an excellent free skate, while Zhou went from fifth to third on Saturday night.

That left Chen and Zhou as pretty obvious selections. And it also left the selection panel with a conundrum: Should they reward Miner for his excellent performance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships or reward Rippon for having the better overall resume?

"I knew that there was a criteria set for the Olympic team, and I feel like I have better criteria than second- and third-place [finishers] here," Rippon said on Saturday night, per Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times. "But with that being said, Vincent and Ross skated very well tonight. And no matter what the selection is, I will be 100 percent OK and can handle that."

In the end, the selection committee chose Rippon, who had a better Grand Prix season than Miner. 

"The overarching theme is to select the team that will give us the best chance at medals," U.S. Figure Skating president Samuel Auxier said during a press conference on Sunday, per Lynn Rutherford of IceNetwork.com. "The key was not looking at one great performance. We had to look at the body of work. Ross has struggled at international competitions."

Rutherford also reported that the selection committee chose Rippon by a vote of 11-1.

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