Battle of the Sixes: Surging Nathan Chen to face rival Yuzuru ‘Ice Prince’ Hanyu in bid for Olympic gold

Chen-Hanyu Rivalry
  • Team USA’s Nathan Chen and Japan’s “Ice Prince” Yuzuru Hanyu are set to face off for the second time at an Olympics during the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing next month.
  • Chen and Hanyu first competed against each other at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, where the Japanese figure skater won gold while the American athlete landed in fifth place overall.
  • Both figure skaters have six national champion titles under their belts, making the upcoming head-to-head battle in Beijing the “Battle of the Sixes.”

The rivalry between American figure skater Nathan Chen and Japanese “Ice Prince” Yuzuru Hanyu is expected to reach its climax during the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics next month.

The athletes’ rivalry began at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang when Chen, who made his Olympic debut at 18, was anticipated to go head-to-head with Japan’s “Ice Prince.” However, the American skater fell short and finished at fifth place overall, yet still managed to bring home a bronze medal by virtue of a team event. Meanwhile, his competitor, Hanyu, bagged his second consecutive Olympic gold medal. He made history after becoming the second man to win back-to-back gold medals at the Olympics after Dick Button’s run in 1948 and 1952.

Now 22, Chen is expected to finally face Hanyu, 27, at the Olympics next month in what may be considered as the “Battle of the Sixes” since both competitors have six national championship titles under their belts. Hanyu won his sixth title during the Japanese national championships in Saitama on Dec. 26, 2021, while Chen received his sixth title earlier this month, as NextShark previously reported.

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Looking back on the first time he saw Hanyu compete in-person, Chen described the Japanese figure skater as the “benchmark for what an exceptional figure skater should be,” the Associated Press reported.

I remember watching him when I was at the Junior Grand Prix final and he was at the senior final and I was amazed at how good he was, how much he commanded the audience,” Chen said of Hanyu. “He was a shining star in figure skating. I went home and I was like, ‘Oh, man. That’s what figure skating is supposed to be like.’”

After his loss to the Japanese star athlete in 2018, Chen went on to become a force to be reckoned with in the world of figure skating. He had an unstoppable run, winning every competition since then before losing the streak to fellow Team USA member Vincent Zhou at Skate America in October 2021, NBC Sports reported.

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As for what to expect from the upcoming Winter Games, Hanyu has set his sights on winning his third gold medal using a successful quadruple axel in the event.

The Olympics isn’t a recital,” Japan’s “Ice Prince” told reporters after winning his sixth national title in December 2021, Japan Today reported. “It’s a place you must win. For that reason, I’ll be strongly determined. I’m hopeful I can prepare a program that sees a quad axel that earns an extra grade of execution points.”

Featured Image via Olympics Figure Skating (left), Olympics (Right)

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