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Nathan Chen: Ready for the Spotlight

Boot Issues

Before Nathan Chen got on the ice for practice at Stars on Ice, he spent a few minutes using duct tape to secure his skates. Knowing that his skating boots have been an issue for him at competitions, this was concerning to watch.

When I sat down with Nathan prior to the Stars on Ice show in Seattle, I asked what was going on with his skates. Apparently they were the same boots he had at the World Team Trophy. Nathan has been touring with Stars on Ice for the past several weeks and has not had a chance to sit down with his boot manufacturer and order some new skates. Nathan did reassure me that ordering new boots was on the agenda as soon as he returned home. Chen is going to order a few pairs of skates to hopefully keep the boot issues at bay this upcoming season.

Ready for this Moment

Nathan Chen is coming off of a breakout year. He won the U.S. Championships, captured the silver medal at the Grand Prix Final and overcame the reigning Olympic champion, Yuzuru Hanyu at the Four Continents Championships. Nathan also made history this season by becoming the first man to land five quads in one free skate. Chen has quickly become the latest phenom in men’s figure skating. So what does he think about all of this?

“This is where I’ve wanted to be for a long long time,” Nathan said. “To finally be here is very reassuring  actually of all of the work that I’ve put in. Obviously it seems like everything happened really quickly in one year, but I’ve put in a lot of work within the 15 years that I’ve skated. All of that put together helped me to get where I wanted to get this year.”

“So all of the attention, you’re ready for it?” I asked. “Basically,” he said with a laugh.

Where some skaters would be overwhelmed or even intimidated by all of the attention, Nathan seems to love it. This is his time and he knows it. There is such an air of cool confidence about him that it’s like he has been keeping this secret and now everyone else has seen what he knew all along.

New Experiences

Just because Chen is ready for the spotlight doesn’t mean that it isn’t filled with new experiences. Nathan joined the cast of Stars on Ice without ever seeing the show as an audience member before. Not only that, but he also went to the World Team Trophy just a few weeks ago for the first time and that event was like none other that he had competed at in his career. “I’m glad I got the experience of competing in the team event, before the Olympic team event, assuming I make the team and everything,” Chen said. “To have that experience was awesome.”

Nathan is still undecided about his programs for next season, but he certainly has some ideas that he is excited to present to his team and from there they will collaborate and design his programs. “I’m pretty comfortable with what I did this season, but I think I want to do something a little different,” he said. “I want to make it a special program.”

Goals for this Upcoming Season

Even though Nathan enjoyed his time with Stars on Ice, he is also excited to move on to the Olympic season. He will only be taking a week off  and is not planning on taking a vacation. Chen will slowly start training and plotting his programs for the season and by mid-June he plans to be in full training mode with his eye on the prize. When asked, Nathan was not shy about his goals for next season:

“Obviously, make the Olympic team to start with; coming out with another title at nationals would be great,” Nathan continued. “My focus is making the Olympic Team and just bringing myself back up to where I was and keep on pushing myself as much as I can this season in terms of the Grand Prix. Making the Grand Prix Final would be another goal, setting myself up with little goals leading up to the season.”

For most, making the Grand Prix Final is not considered a “little goal” but when you really want an Olympic medal, it really is only a step in that direction. With a good amount of confidence, some experience and some new boots on the way, what is his biggest challenge moving forward?

“Staying healthy and staying strong,” Chen said. “Making sure that I’m mentally energized and motivated.”

Nathan often thinks about what it will be like at the Olympics and uses it as motivation. Knowing where he wants to go, only pushes him to work that much harder to get there. Chen has waited 15 years for it to be his time and he is ready to take on this upcoming season. The Olympics has always been a dream of his and now he is ready to turn it into reality.

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