Teen Olympian Called ‘The Future of Men’s Figure Skating’ is Asian American

Joining figure U.S. Figure Skating Champion Nathan Chen in the formidable American contingent seeking Olympic glory in South Korea next month is 17-year-old Vincent Zhou.

Chen was earlier assured of the Olympics berth after placing first at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday night.

Zhou, who has been called as the future of men’s figure skating, had to wait for the confirmation from the Olympic committee that he was in fact selected to perform for the U.S. Olympic team after placing third in the competition, the LA Times reports.

“It is my greatest honor to be representing the United States of America at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea,” Zhou wrote on Twitter following the committee’s announcement on Sunday.

“This is a truly surreal opportunity in the midst of the greatest realization of aspirations I have ever known. Thank you all.”

Born in San Jose, California to Chinese immigrant parents, Zhou moved to Palo Alto with his family when he was 2 and a half years old. His passion for skating began at age 5 after attending a birthday party at a local skating rink.

“My Dad took me to the local rink just to have fun,” Vincent told U.S. Figure Skating. “I was so scared and wanted to hold on to the edge but my Dad was like, ‘No, you should come out to the middle.’ He would skate around holding my hand.”

In 2012, he made his championship debut at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, winning the gold medal while being the youngest skater in the competition. He would later win the silver medal at the 2017 U.S. Championships and then become the 2017 World Junior champion.

Throughout his very young career, he already has faced and triumphed over numerous injuries and other challenges in the family. Sometimes, the young athlete also has to deal with racism from ignorant people online. Just days before his Olympic ticket announcement, Zhou found himself responding to a tweet which apparently questioned his citizenship.

The hateful tweet has since been deleted while Zhou’s supporters left encouraging messages for the young star athlete.

Chen and Zhou will be joined on the team by national championships fourth placer Adam Rippon as U.S. officials decided to leave out runner-up Ross Miner. The trio will see action on Feb. 9-25 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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