Just one year removed from winning the Junior Grand Prix Final and only two weeks after his first grand prix podium, 17-year-old Nathan Chen scored a stunning silver medal Saturday at the ISU Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France.
Mired in fifth place after Friday’s short program, Chen was 14.46 points out of second and 6.46 points off the podium.
The athletic Chen then landed four quadruple jumps to score a free skate personal best of 197.55 to beat even the seemingly untouchable Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and win the free skate. The reigning Olympic champion’s 21.23-point advantage over Chen after the short program proved to be enough to give him a fourth Grand Prix Final gold – a first for any man – with a total score of 293.90 to Chen’s 282.85. Hanyu’s teammate, Shoma Uno, took bronze with a 282.51.
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Already the youngest American man to earn a grand prix medal, Chen is now the second-youngest man from any nation to medal at the Final.
Saturday saw the top three after the short program tumble down the standings. With a 106.53 Friday to lead the field by 6.77 points, Hanyu finished third in the free skate behind Chen and Uno.
Canada’s Patrick Chan, a three-time world champion, dropped the farthest, going from second after the short program to fifth overall with a 266.75. Javier Fernandez of Spain, the two-time reigning world champ, slipped from third to fourth with his final score of 268.77. Both had won twice on the grand prix circuit this season, with Chan taking gold at Skate Canada and Cup of China and Fernandez winning at the Rostelecom Cup and Trophée de France.
Adam Rippon finished sixth with a total score of 233.10.
Chen’s medal breaks the longest medal drought at the event for U.S. men, who last took the podium in 2009 when Evan Lysacek won gold and Johnny Weir earned bronze.