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Nathan Chen Captures 2nd National Title

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There were a lot of predictions going into the U.S. Championships about who would be on the podium after the men’s event. Even the most experienced experts could not have predicted how this event would go. The only certain factor in this event was Nathan Chen winning gold and he did just that.

Nathan Chen has surprisingly not been performing quad lutz jumps all week. Some have said he is fighting an illness of some type, others believe that he has a foot or ankle injury, but Chen will not disclose much about his physical condition at this time. It’s a bit concerning. Hopefully he rests before the Olympic Games instead of pushing too hard and getting himself injured.

Regardless of whatever was going on with him physically, Nathan still delivered five quads in his free skate. His only major error was singling his planned triple axel. Chen can land quads without a problem, but those triple axels are his nemesis. The crowd erupted as soon as he finished his free skate. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it was a step in the right direction.

“It’s been a fun journey since 2002,” Nathan said during the press conference. “This is exactly where I wanted to be, this is all that I dreamed of. I’m really happy that I took all the right steps, I put the work in to get myself to where I am now. It’s all happening so fast, it seems like it was yesterday that I first stepped onto the ice. I still need time to wrap my head around everything, but I’m so happy with everything that’s already happened.”

Ross Miner Delivers

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night came from Ross Miner. Ross was not on anyone’s radar going into this event as he has not made it onto the podium at the U.S. Championships since 2013. Miner was in sixth place after the short program and he delivered arguably the best free skate of his entire career. Ross opened with a fabulous quad salchow and just continued to build from there. He racked up the points and stole the silver medal right out from under all of the other guys. It was exciting and shocking all at the same time.

“Well, I know it’s not a fluke [his free skate],” Ross said. “That’s what I do at home every day, and this was the big moment, and I went out there and had no regrets. I put out a clean competition and at the end of the day I did my job. It’s up to [the selection committee] to decide what they decide.”

Vincent Zhou Lands 4 Quads

The only man to land a solid quad lutz in the U.S. Championships this year was Vincent Zhou. Vincent landed a fantastic quad lutz-triple toe in both his his short program and his free skate. Zhou attempted five quads, but fell on his final quad toe. He was incredibly impressive. Vincent moved up from fifth place after the short to claim the bronze medal.

“Tonight was pretty special,” Vincent said. “The crowd was awesome, and the energy was flowing through my veins, if that’s even possible. I know I made a few mistakes, but overall I’m proud of myself for fighting all the way through tonight.”

Adam Rippon Makes Costly Errors

Adam Rippon opened with a quad lutz in his free skate, but fell on the landing. He has done this many times and still somehow manages to keep his focus and complete a clean program, which is what he started to do. Everything was looking great and he only had two jumps left in his program when disaster struck. He slipped off the edge of his planned triple salchow and turned it into a single. He then singled his planned triple lutz. He looked stunned.

Rippon has done so well this season that we have started to expect him to skate cleanly. He doesn’t make these types of silly mistakes anymore, until he just did. Adam said later that he felt his boot slip at one point, which could have subconsciously reminded him that on this day, just one year ago, he broke his foot. Hard to say what exactly happened to Rippon, but now he is in the same position as his best friend Ashley Wagner was last night. Adam finished in fourth place and will spend the next several hours waiting for a text to find out if he will be named to the Olympic Team.

“I knew that there was a criteria set to be selected for the Olympic team,” Adam said. “I feel like I have better criteria than second and third place here. But that being said, Vincent and Ross skated well tonight, and no matter what the selection is I will be 100 percent OK and can handle that. My Grand Prixs are better than everybody’s, except for Nathan’s. My tier-ones are, you know, I had a bad U.S. Championships, but I qualified for the Grand Prix Final. And I wasn’t at the World Championships last year because I had a broken foot…”

Jason Brown Finishes in Sixth Place

Jason Brown was also expected to be on the podium, but it just wasn’t in the cards for him either. Jason opened with a fall on the quad toe and struggled with his triple axel. The mistakes continued one after the other and he finished in sixth place. It had to be so disappointing for him, but for whatever reason it just has not been the best season for Brown.

“I am disappointed,” Jason said. “It’s that simple. I know that I am capable of so much more. The warm-up felt great, and I am definitely disappointed in the skate that I put out, but I know that I’m just going to continue to get stronger from this event and keep moving forward with the most positive attitude that I can.”

Who will be on the men’s U.S. Figure Skating Olympic Team?

The selection committee has yet another tough, unpopular decision ahead of them. Do they select the top three finishers at the U.S. Championships or do they bump Ross off the team because he does not have that “full body of work” that they have been looking for? How heartbreaking would it be for Miner to finally have a skate like this and still be left off the team? Bu that very well could happen. Ross does not have five quads like Vincent and he has not had the Grand Prix season that Adam has had, so he may very well be left off the team. The only spot that is guaranteed is Nathan Chen, the rest are debatable. The decision will be announced tomorrow morning at 8:15am PT.

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