The real Nathan Chen finally arrived at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
After falling (quite miserably) to 17th place after the team men’s short program and earlier individual events, the two-time U.S. champion figure skater redeemed himself with a history-making men’s free skate performance on Saturday.
Chen, 18, landed a historic five clean quadruple jumps during his long program on Saturday. In an additional quad flip ― he had originally planned for only five ― Chen placed his hand on the ice. The graceful and powerful performance earned him a personal best score of 215.08, raising his final score to 297.35.
While he lost his chance at a medal, Chen’s six-quad attempt still made him the first Olympian to land even five quads cleanly in a routine.
“I did the best that I could after what happened in the short program, and I think what happened in the short program allowed me to take the pressure off myself and just enjoy myself here,” Chen told NBC after the event.
When asked why he attempted six quads after a disappointing week, Chen replied: “I already fell so many times, I might as well go out, throw everything down and see what happens.”
His comeback impressed many veteran figure skaters, including announcers Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, and 1992 Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi.
“What?!?!?!” Yamaguchi tweeted after Chen’s show. “Completely inhuman display of ridiculousness!!!”
She included her own “chicken scratch” scorecard in the tweet.
Chen was breaking records way before the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
He became the first U.S. male skater to land two quad jumps in a short program and four quad jumps in the free skate event at the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championship. Chen broke similar records the following year by landing two quad jumps in the short program and five quad jumps in a free skate performance at the 2017 U.S. Championship.
Welcome back, Chen!