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by more than 43 points. While he appears well on his way to the World and Olympic podium, the calm and confident teen is still training for bigger and better things with a sky’s-the-limit at- titude.


“How I’ve progressed as a younger skater is as soon as I land a new jump, I throw it in the program and work it from there [and] try to gain the consistency in the competition,” Chen said. “I think that’s the same mindset that I’ve had going into these past few competitions with these big jumps. Tere really is no end point. You just keep on adding in new stuff and trying new things and try to gain confidence with these big jumps.” Just one year prior, as Chen wore a bronze


medal around his neck, Vincent Zhou (SC of San Francisco) found himself as a first-time se- nior in eighth place. When he left Kansas City, he was the U.S. silver medalist. “I didn’t even expect to be on the podium, to be honest. I just tried to set some modest ex- pectations for myself,” Zhou said after the free skate. “Tis week in practice, I trained well, and


(l-r) Vincent Zhou, Nathan Chen, Jason Brown, Grant Hochstein Nathan Chen gives a brilliant free skate performance.


By the end of the first segment, Chen had made his mark and left no doubt — this was his year. “Finally!” Chen exclaimed after his “Le


Corsaire” performance. “Tis is the program I’ve been looking for all season. I finally put out a good short program. [A U.S. title] is something I’ve wanted my whole life. It’s definitely a good step for me and I’m really happy to be where I am tonight and hopefully to continue with this in the free skate.” It was Sunday afternoon in Kansas City.


Chen brought 106.39 points to the free skate with his nearest challenger posting 88.67. While a title seemed imminent, no one could have predicted the performance Chen would throw down to seal the deal. “Te Polovtsian Dances” by Alexander


Borodin began echoing around the arena. Before it would end, history would be made. Four quads were planned, but five were executed perfectly. Opening with another quad Lutz-triple toe combination, Chen’s next element was a quad flip — an element landed for the first time in competition just nine months prior when Sho- ma Uno of Japan notched the accomplishment. Next up: A quad toe-double toe-double loop jump series and a solo quad toe. Tough his planned quads were solidly behind him, halfway through his performance, Chen landed a qua- druple Salchow, good for bonus points and his name forever in the record books. Until then, no man, American or otherwise, had ever landed five quadruple jumps in a single performance. “It was amazing,” Chen said of his perfor- mance. “Tat [quad Salchow] is something I’ve been training for and working toward. I didn’t really want to put it out there just yet, since it’s been not-so-consistent in practice, but it’s some- thing I’m really proud of.”


Chen earned 212.08 for his final segment,


en route to a total score of 318.47. His person- al-best scores marked new U.S. records across the board, breaking the previous-best overall score


SKATING 17


JAMIE SQUIRE/GETTY IMAGES


JAY ADEFF/U.S. FIGURE SKATING


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