Three-time world champion American figure skater Nathan Chen began the 2022 Beijing Olympics with a historic performance, placing the U.S. figure skating team in the lead.
Chen’s performance at the Capital Indoor Stadium on Friday earned him the top spot in the men’s short program with an international score of 111.71 points — the second-highest score ever recorded in the program. His score trails the world record set by his rival Yuzuru Hanyu by only .11 points.
The 22-year-old’s performance was set to a version of “La Boheme” and featured a triple axel and two quadruple jumps in a clean program, according to the New York Post.
“It feels great to be able to have a short program that I actually skated well, at an Olympic experience,” Chen told USA Today. “So (I will) take as much as I can from this experience and then take it day by day from here.”
Despite struggling during the 2018 competition at the Pyeongchang Games, he appears to have redeemed himself with a sharp start, placing the U.S. ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee and the 2022 Winter Olympics host nation of China.
Chen also recently earned his sixth consecutive national title in the U.S. Figure Skating Championship in Tennessee, as NextShark previously reported.
“As we’ve seen since 2018, even if someone doesn’t have the best skate, we have an incredibly strong team to back us all up,” Chen told NPR. “That’s certainly the case this time around. I’m happy I did my part and skated as good as I can.”
Japan’s Shoma Uno placed second in the short program with a score of 105.46. The Russian Olympic Committee’s Mark Kondratiuk finished in third with 95.81.