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A near-perfect performance head and shoulders above the competition earned American Nathan Chen his first Olympic Gold medal in the men’s single skating competition.

The favorite headed into Thursday’s event in Beijing, the 22-year-old Chen nailed his win with a long program filled to the gills with moves—quadruple flip, triple toe loop, a total of five quad jumps, including a quadruple lutz, each of which were nailed—that illustrate why he earned the nickname “quad king.”

In doing so, he became the first American since Evan Lysacek in 2010 to win gold in a men’s figure skating event. He’s also the seventh man to win gold for the United States in men’s singles skating.


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“It means the world,” he said. “I’m just so happy … too many emotions to process. It’s a whirlwind right now. I had a blast out there.

“Of course, there are certainly many things I could have done better, but overall I was very happy I was able to do the program that I put down.”

Chen’s performance, set to songs such as Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” was met with loud cheers from other athletes and placed him in the lead with 218.63; that, combined with his short program score, gave him a total of 332.60.

Yuma Kagiyama, 18, came in at 310.05 points to garner the silver in his first Olympics, and 2018-silver-winner Shoma Uno took bronze with 293.

Japanese legend Yuzuru Hanyu fell attempting the fabled quadruple axel in his free skate and came in fourth.

The gold medal is a dream come true for Chen, who also noted that the games’ location, Beijing, holds special meaning; it’s the city where his parents met before they immigrated to the U.S.

“I know that they did everything that they could to give us—I’m the youngest of five—to give all of us…opportunities to pursue (our dreams), without having many resources themselves,” he said. “It certainly has not been easy for them.”

Chen added that while growing up in Salt Lake City he found “inspiration” in Asian-American figure skating star and two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan.

“Having athletes that look like you certainly gives you the hope that you can do the same,” Chen said.

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