As expected, Nathan Chen has gotten off to a strong start at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. And on Sunday, he will have an opportunity to continue his recent dominance at the event.
Chen posted a score of 115.39 points in Saturday's men's short program, breaking his own record of 114.13 that he set at the event in 2020. He will look to seal the gold medal for the sixth consecutive year Sunday, when the men's free skate concludes proceedings at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
There hasn't been a men's figure skater to win six straight U.S. championships since Dick Button captured the gold in seven straight years from 1946-52. If Chen maintains his performance level, he is on track to break that record.
Here's everything else you need to know heading into Sunday's action at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Sunday TV Schedule
Men's Free, 2-4 p.m. ET, NBC
Sunday Preview, Predictions
Chen wasn't the only men's figure skater to have an impressive showing in the short program Saturday. And while he's the leader and in a good position to capture the gold medal Sunday, other skaters are not too far back on the leaderboard.
While Chen set a new short-program record with 115.39 points, Vincent Zhou (112.78), Ilia Malinin (112.78) and Jason Brown (100.84) all exceeded the 100-point mark. It was an impressive day.
"This U.S. national short program was insane," Chen said, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). "Every guy laid down amazing programs."
But not one of them was more impressive than Chen's. And he'll be the favorite to win Sunday's free skate.
If Chen is upset, then it will likely be by Zhou, who set a personal best at the event with his short-program score of 112.78 points. The 21-year-old isn't too far behind Chen, and he's had success at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the past.
Zhou has never won the event, but he's captured the silver medal in three of the past five years. He finished third and fourth in the other two years during that stretch.
Like Chen, Zhou was impressed by the performances that took place Saturday.
"One of the craziest short-program events ever probably," Zhou said, per the AP (h/t ESPN). "The general idea, the pressure was on, so I'm honored to have the opportunity to compete in this field."
There's a good chance that the four men's leaders will all perform well again during Sunday's free skate. However, it's highly likely that Chen will continue his dominance and win the gold for the sixth year in a row.
Chen has been on a different level than the rest of the field in recent years. And with him preparing to compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics in February, he will be focused on building momentum toward that.
Expect Chen to put up another strong score and hold off the rest of the field. Zhou, meanwhile, will take another silver medal.