Meryl Davis is an iconic figure skater whose resume includes a 2014 Olympic gold medal in ice dance – the first-ever for Team USA – a 2010 Olympic silver in ice dance and 2014 Olympic bronze in the team event. She and partner Charlie White also won two world titles, two world silver medals, five Grand Prix Final medals and six U.S. titles. Davis is writing for TeamUSA.org throughout the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
If one were to pull up the final results of the men’s figure skating event at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, indeed, it may be a shock. Nathan Chen, America’s “Quad King” and best hope for Olympic gold finished in fifth place!? How can that be?
A little over a week ago, that result may have seemed rather disappointing – to no one, of course, more so than to Mr. Chen, himself. Rather, after two discouraging short program performances (one in the team event and one in the individual), the young star’s fifth-place finish overall is nothing short of inspiring.
Sitting in a shocking 17th place after the men’s short program, all hope for Chen’s highly-anticipated Olympic moment seemed lost. Whether he had been overwhelmed by the pressure, the hype or derailed by some other unfortunate happening, we may never know. Certainly, hearts across America broke knowing that Olympic gold would almost certainly be out of reach for the tremendous talent.
While Chen won’t be returning home from PyeongChang with an Olympic gold medal, his triumphant free skate performance at the Gangneung Ice Arena accomplished something unexpected. Entering the free program a staggering 29.41 points behind the leader, reigning Olympic gold medalist and eventual repeat champion Yuzuru Hanya of Japan, Chen skated a near flawless program to win the free by 8.91 points. Despite finishing the event in fifth place overall, Chen’s remarkable free program made a statement. In coming from behind to deliver his winning free program, six quadruple jumps and all, Chen reminds athletes everywhere that giving up is never an option. As an athlete myself, I’m grateful for the reminder that you have neither to be perfect nor must you win in order to possess the qualities of a champion.
Another breakout star of the men’s figure skating team is also making a statement.
Adam Rippon has made headlines as one of the first openly gay U.S. men’s athletes of the Olympic Winter Games (along with skier Gus Kenworthy). Since the start of the Games, Rippon has won the hearts of Americans as he so effortlessly and unapologetically succeeds in being himself. To compliment his three exquisite skates on Olympic ice, including his free program that helped Team USA win an Olympic bronze in the figure skating team event, Rippon was heard telling NBC’s Andrea Joyce, “I might not be the best, but I’m the most fun.”
Indeed, he is.
From nailing his events to letting his A+ personality shine, Adam Rippon appears to be absolutely living his best life in PyeongChang. With a 10th-place finish in the men’s event, Rippon will be returning home to California with a team event bronze, a whole lot of new fans and, no doubt, a big smile.
Also presumably returning home with a smile is America’s youngest member of the Olympic team, Vincent Zhou. Finishing the event with a sixth-place finish, the 17-year-old made history when he became the first athlete ever to land a quadruple lutz jump in the Olympic Games. With a charming and uncharacteristic celebration after his final skate in PyeongChang, Zhou delighted audiences in revealing his emotion and excitement after a successful skate. Certainly, a stellar first Olympic Games for this young athlete.
Firmly on top of the men’s field was Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu. Having been away from competition since October 2017, it seemed uncertain whither or not Hanyu had a good chance of defending his 2014 Olympic title. Despite a second-place finish behind America’s Nathan Chen in the free program, Hanyu’s stunning short program, impressive lead and convincing free program kept him solidly at the top of the field to claim his second Olympic gold. That second consecutive gold medal is certainly a tremendous accomplishment. The Japanese star skater is the first man to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals since America’s Dick Button in 1948 and 1952.
Just over 10 points behind Hanyu was fellow Japanese skater, Shoma Uno. The two-time Japanese national champion delivered a remarkable and emotional performance to Puccini’s “Turandot” to win his first Olympic medal.
Following the two Japanese skaters were Spain’s Javier Fernandez and China’s Jin Boyang. Fernandez, in fact, is the first skater from Spain ever to medal at an Olympic Games while Jin became the first Chinese skater to medal at the World Figure Skating Championships in the men’s event back in 2016.
This 2018 Olympic men’s figure skating event had to be one of the highest quality, entertaining and remarkable men’s figure skating events in history. The level of skill and depth of talent is extraordinary. Congratulations to all the athletes. Your dedication and commitment to excellence was on display at these Games for all to see!