US Men's Olympic Figure Skating 2018: Free Skate Scorers, Highlights, Reaction

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2018

USA's Nathan Chen competes in the men's single skating free skating of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 17, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS        (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Nathan Chen recovered from two of the most disastrous skates of his career with a free skate on Friday night that produced Olympic history.

The 18-year-old, who entered the second portion of the men's competition in 17th place, marveled on the ice at Gangneung Ice Arena, as he produced an Olympic record of six quads in a single routine.

Thanks to his sextet of quads, the Utah native recorded the best free skate score of his career by 11 points, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Nathan Chen landed an Olympic-record six quads in his free skate tonight. #PyeongChang2018 His 215.08 points in the free skate are a personal best, nearly 11 points more than his previous high. https://t.co/pzJj0Hew8p

Chen displayed no fear during his final Olympic skate in which he rebounded from a pair of short programs littered with mistakes in the team event and men's competition. NBC Olympics provided us with a glimpse of the performance:

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

"Nathan Chen is still the quad king!" This is history. @nathanwchen with SIX quads in his men's free skate program. #WinterOlympics #BestOfUS https://t.co/Ldd0aubwzt https://t.co/LrM7LDjArn

The 2018 U.S. champion told reporters after his skate that he decided to go for six quads with nothing to lose and little pressure on his shoulders, per NBC Olympics' Nick McCarvel:

Nick McCarvel @NickMcCarvel

Nathan Chen about his six-quad free: "I already fell so many times... I just decided to go out there and throw down and see what happens." #PyeongChang2018 https://t.co/e5TwDMrhBC

Chen's performance garnered praise from past American Olympic figure skaters, including Polina Edmunds and Meryl Davis, who won gold in ice dance in Sochi:

Polina Edmunds @PolinaEdmunds

I knew you could do it! @nathanwchen Way to KILL IT in the long🙌🏻🇺🇸 @NBCOlympics

Meryl Davis @Meryl_Davis

Wow... @nathanwchen, you are brilliant. So much respect. #pyeongchang2018 #bestofus

Despite drawing rave reviews for his showing on Friday night, Chen missed out on the medal positions because of the low mark his short program earned.

He placed fifth behind winner Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, whose final combined score was 317.85, while Japan's Shoma Uno took silver and Spain's Javier Fernandez earned bronze. Jin Boyang of China missed out on the podium in fourth by eight points.

Chen wasn't the only American skater who delivered an incredible free skate, as 17-year-old Vincent Zhou unleashed a program with five quads that drew an emotional response once the music stopped, per NBC Olympics on Twitter: 

NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics

.@TeamUSA's 17-year-old @govincentzhou has been absolutely BRILLIANT in his first #WinterOlympics! https://t.co/fmMl0C4Amf https://t.co/UNBhME38lh

Just like his teammate, Zhou received praise from his peers on Twitter, including 2014 Olympian Gracie Gold:

Gracie Gold @GraceEGold

OMG @govincentzhou. Those jumps. The red shirt. You represented not only yourself, but our country, so well tonight. You should be proud.

Although he didn't medal, Zhou gave us a glimpse of what the future of American figure skating will look like, and if everything goes well over the next four years, he could be one of the top medal contenders in 2022.

Zhou ended up in sixth with a total score of 276.69 that was 20 points beneath the number Chen earned for his fifth-place finish.

The final American to take the ice on Friday was Adam Rippon, who continued to capture the imagination of the fans in South Korea, and back at home in the United States. He recorded a score of 171.41, which placed him beneath Chen and Zhou and 10th overall.

Rippon didn't receive as high of a score as his compatriots due to the lack of quads in his program, as noted by USA Today's Christine Brennan:

Christine Brennan @cbrennansports

Adam Rippon with another solid skate, but without quads, look at the technical point differential in upper left corner compared to Nathan Chen. https://t.co/HqwS25inI4

Regardless of what components were in his program, Rippon's performance drew more praise from his fellow athletes. Gus Kenworthy, who is one of two openly gay American athletes who are competing in Pyeongchang along with Rippon, tweeted that he was inspired by the 28-year-old's free skate:

Gus Kenworthy @guskenworthy

I don't fully understand figure skating judging so I can't really speculate on the scoring but @Adaripp's performance was truly mesmerizing. You're #1 in our hearts, Adam! So proud of you and inspired by you.

Next up for the American figure skaters is the ice dance on Sunday and Monday, while the women conclude the Olympic schedule on Tuesday and Thursday.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Olympic.org.


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