GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA – American “quad king” Nathan Chen has played down his status as one of the favorites for the gold medal in the men’s figure skating competition and insists he just wants to be proud of his performance on his Olympic debut at the Pyeongchang Games.
The 18-year-old Grand Prix Final winner, known for his ability to reel off several quads per competition, also refused to be drawn on whether he thinks reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will be on top of his game after rehabbing from an ankle injury.
“I honestly don’t think about it (being a gold medal candidate) and try not to think about it and I just want to come out of this competition proud of what I have done. That is my goal right now,” Chen said after his first practice session at Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday.
“It was a good practice and it feels good to be here and the ice feels awesome. It is the first practice so I will have a couple more practices to get my feet under me but ultimately everything feels good right now.”
The U.S. champion said he was comfortable with the fact that he has already skated here, defeating Hanyu at last year’s Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, but did not view it as any kind of advantage.
“Every competition is different but to be able to see the venue and to be able to skate on the ice and have my bearings is awesome,” said the Salt Lake City native. “I felt more comfortable being here and knowing where everything is.”
Hanyu is coming back from an ankle injury sustained during practice at the NHK Trophy in November. He has decided to skip the team event in order to be ready for the men’s singles starting on Feb. 16.
Hanyu’s Canadian coach Brian Orser said on Tuesday that the two-time world champion would be “100 percent” ready to defend his title.
Asked whether he felt he had an advantage over Hanyu because of his fitness issues, Chen said, “I honestly don’t know his situation and I can only really focus on myself since I will be on the ice by myself.
“All I can focus on now is doing all the things I can do to put out a good performance.”
Chen said he hoped to skate in the team event and did not think it might affect his performance in the singles competition.
“I’m not sure of the (U.S.) team yet so that comes first but I feel like I am a good addition to the team and then also just the fact that we are at the Olympics and we only get one shot on the ice.
“So to add another shot would be a great experience and that would be good to put the program out there before I actually do the individual.”