Americans qualify for men's free skate

Americans qualify for men's free skate

Americans qualify for men's free skate

As it turns out, nobody can battle Nathan Chen like Nathan Chen himself.

Chen put his head on a pillow and fell asleep. Skaters who did not attempt quads are not shown. He felt no pressure.

After repeatedly saying that the Olympics were just another competition for him prior to his short skate on Friday, Chen - taking part in his first Olympics - ruefully admitted that the expectations and the occasion got the best of him.

The 18-year-old from Salt Lake City landed five quadruple jumps cleanly and attempted a sixth, which he earned full points for despite putting a hand down on the landing.

Yuzuru Hanyu defended the title he won in Sochi in 2014 with a stirring, emotional performance to "Seimei", a Japanese soundtrack. The only question that remained was one of stamina. Chen held onto the lead after Dmitri Aliev, an Olympic Athlete from Russian Federation, skated, but then Jin Boyang of China, overtook him.

But with skating's emphasis on the quad, performance is no longer enough.

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Hanyu was visibly moved by his latest triumph in a remarkable journey from the day in 2011 he had to fled a Sendai ice rink when a devastating natural disaster hit Japan.

After his not-quite-spotless free skate, which opened with a quickfire quad salchow and quad toeloop, he bowed to his fans as they in turn tossed his Winnie The Pooh stuffed toys, his mascot, onto the Gangneung Arena ice.

Much of the build up to the men's figure skating event has focused on the U.S. pair of Adam Rippon and Nathan Chen.

An Olympic athlete can do no better than perform at his best on sports' greatest stage, and if, on the day, a rival is simply better, pay respect. Chen finished 5th, Zhou 6 and Rippon 10.

After some earlier team events, the men start their quest for the individual gold medal in figure skating tonight at 8:00 p.m. EST. Rippon's spins and footwork, the artistic connective tissue between the high-value jumps, have always been world-class.

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"It has been surreal", said Rippon, who took equal pride in the achievements of teammates he regards as his "sons". Honestly, just being able to be on Olympic ice is something I should try to enjoy more than I did in the competition. Zhou did five quads.

"I wanted to go out there and show that I am a serious athlete", he said.

Coming into the free skate in 17th position, Chen landed six quads in his free skate performance, jumping immediately to the top of the standings. I continued to make efforts for the two months during which I couldn't skate. Dom Parsons took bronze, Britain's first skeleton medal in 70 years.

Chen and Hanyu will return to the ice Saturday for the men's free skate, which is their final event of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Despite the heroics, it proved impossible to catch Hanyu.

"I don't feel sick right now, I don't think I have a virus. I am overwhelmed. I am just happy with my performance and my hard training and everything", said a teary Hanyu.

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"But I am so thankful for the people I had around me ... they've all been there every step of the way, believed in me more than I believed in myself".

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