We have seen the future of U.S. figure skating and it is Nathan Chen.
Chen, 16, made history Sunday at the national championships by landing four quadruple jumps in his long program, more than any American skater ever, giving him a total of six over the two days of competition, a previously unthinkable number for a U.S. skater.
He did not win the men’s title, however. That honor went to veteran Adam Rippon, a lyrical skater who didn’t land a quad but still won his first national title at 26 with a score of 270.75 points. Max Aaron, the 2013 national champion, finished second (269.55), and Chen was third (266.93).
Third? Yes, third. Four quads were not good enough for first place. Chen is young and not fully developed as a skater and a jumper, but what a statement it would have been for the judges to have placed him first.
That said, all three skaters qualified for the world championships in Boston this spring, and Chen also will compete at the world junior championships in Hungary two weeks earlier, so he will get plenty of exposure on the international stage two years before the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.