San Jose—Nathan Chen began skating inspired by the 2002 Olympic Games in his hometown.
Chen, 18, booked a place at next month’s Olympic Games with a victory at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Saturday night at SAP Center that was as dominating as expected.
Chen’s overall score of 315.23 that successfully defended his U.S. title by nearly 41 points and kept him undefeated headed into Pyeongchang and near the top of any short list of gold medal contenders.
“It’s been a really fun journey since 2002, since I started,” . This is where I wanted to be. This is all that I dreamed of. I’m happy I’ve taken all the right steps. It’s all happening so fast. It seems like it was just yesterday I first stepped on the ice.”
The messy part will be figuring out who will be joining Chen on Team USA.
Meltdowns by Adam Rippon and Jason Brown, the pre-competition favorites to join Chen in Pyeongchang coupled with a solid skate by Vincent Zhou, the 2017 World Junior champion and an out of nowhere skate of his lifetime by veteran Ross Miner made for an interesting conversation for U.S. Figure Skating’s Olympic selection committee later Saturday night.
Miner, 26, started strongly with a quad salchow followed by pair of two-jump combination and only gained momentum through a program that ended with an overall score of 274.51, a personal best by nearly 25 points, and second place.
“I had one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had on the ice,” Miner said. “That’s what I Do in training at home and it was such a good feeling to put it out there in the big game and show what I’m capable of. It’s what I do all the time. It was pretty special.”
Zhou, 17, who was born in nearby Palo Alto and now splits his training between Riverside and Colorado Springs, was the hometown favorite.
“Tonight was pretty special,” Zhou said. “The crowd was awesome. Their energy was flowing through my veins.”
That energy carried Zhou through three quad jumps. But he struggled on a fourth and then crashed on a fifth, finishing third just behind Miner at 273.83.
As surprising as Miner’s performance were the disasterous routines by Rippon, 28, the 2016 U.S. Champion and Brown, 23, the 2015 U.S. titlist and 2014 Olympian.
Rippon, who started the night in second place, crashed on a quad lutz, his only quad of the routine, only seconds into the program and never really recovered, finishing fourth overall at 268.34.
“You know what you guys for what I did today…