Nathan Chen details 2018 Olympic experience in new book excerpt

In “One Jump at a Time,” which airs Tuesday, the top Olympic figure skater Nathan Chen he tells his life story, from his upbringing as the youngest of five children in a Chinese-American family to his journey through sports. In this episode, Chen writes about his successful and successful performance at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, including his motivation, Rafael Arutyunyanand sister Alice

When I went on the ice for the individual short program, it was the same situation as the team short program a few days before—the same feeling. I thought, “No, I don’t think I can do this.” Now, it’s worse because I can’t shake the memory of what happened a few days ago.

Against Raf’s advice, I decided to go for the quad Lutz to open the program, instead of the quad flip. When I failed that first jump, my first thought was, “I want to go back and start this program all over again.” But of course, it’s not an option. But I allowed myself to get into a difficult game of trying to correct that first mistake by mentally adding and matching the remaining two jumps to increase my scores. I used a lot of strength to get up from that fall, I started to think, “How can I change my program to be able to get a high score and keep my strength, so I don’t forget every flight in this program?” I decided at the last minute to change the quad flip that was planned for the quad toe flexibility in the second half of the program, but I wasn’t mentally ready for that jump. And while I was tired of worrying about it, I did what I feared—I completed my three flights. again.

I stepped out on my quad toes and did the same after landing my triple Axel. I lost my balance and had to put my hand on the ice.

If I had put my mind to one short project—what Raf thought or what I wanted to accomplish—and tied it to what happened, I might have been able to save those short-term double-damage program, or It’s better than what I actually do. Having so many recovery options, and combos running through my head, when I really felt like following through on what I’d been practicing all season, including a lot of room for error and ended up setting me up for failure.

Coming off the ice, I couldn’t look at Raf or anyone else on the field.

I knew I was only going to see disappointment. I haven’t had low scores in years. I wanted to avoid the bright lights of the stage. I didn’t want to talk to the media, I wanted to get out of the rink as much as possible. I didn’t know I was allowed to release the mixed section, which means this load of ads will bombard you with a lot of questions. So I faced them. I remember the journalists being really cool, maybe because they were like me and didn’t know what to do. They asked me, “What do you think?”

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I replied, “I don’t think so,” and that was that.

By the time everyone skated, I was seventeen out of two thousand skaters. When my press duties were over, I walked out of the stadium and back to my office in the Village. I just wanted to lie in bed without thinking.

I can’t remember if I called my mom, or if she called me when she walked out of the playground with my family, but we talked.

“Do it for me, Nathan,” he said.

“What is?” I replied.

“Just run clear tomorrow. You can do it.

I really wanted to do the same, but I didn’t want to commit. That’s my mother’s way of encouraging me. His desire to take care of all his children is unwavering. He wants us to work hard and train hard for the best results; but if things don’t go well, he wants us to continue with the solution. That’s why he told Genia that I was still running in the novice championship many years ago, even though I was injured three weeks before the competition. If I had entered later, if I hadn’t tried, then I wouldn’t know what I could achieve. Everything was included in his one-word request: by asking me to run a pure free program, he told me that the competition was not over.

Nathan Chen One Jump at a TimeAt that time, I didn’t want to think about what happened. For the next eighteen hours I lay in bed under my blankets. It was not early in the morning, although the competition was in the morning, but I closed the shade and did not eat anything. I just sleep in the dark. Sometimes I get up to shower and then try to sleep. But sleep has eluded me since I arrived in PyeongChang. I was only half asleep, which meant I didn’t feel alive. I’m used to getting close to ten hours of sleep at home, but not nearly that much these past few days. Since I’m struggling with it now, I’m starting to worry.

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I kept turning and turning, until finally I called Alice.

“I can’t sleep. What should I do?” I asked. “Should I take Tylenol PM?”

I brought some Tylenol PM to PyeongChang in case I needed it to help me sleep. I used it before, but I would sleep and not be as responsive the next morning. I have an early morning practice for a free program the next day, and I don’t want to sleep in the snow.

Alice was at the Airbnb and decided to discuss it with the whole family. We thought it would be good for me to take one so I could sleep and wake up early the next morning. I didn’t want to get into a discussion about anything else at the time, and I think my family knew that and appreciated it. When we decided I could take a Tylenol PM, I stuck it out.

That night I had the best night’s sleep of my entire time in South Korea. I woke up the next morning well rested and very comfortable for the free program, which was scheduled at 10 am. I was one of the first skaters at the rink. morning.

In the back of my mind, I was wondering if there was any point in trying six quads, as Raf and I had planned, since my efforts weren’t consistent. I’ve made all the mistakes in my jumps in the two short programs I’ve run so far, so I thought, what’s the difference if I do it again? I wasn’t worried about the outcome at that time. I have nothing to lose: falling back in the rankings won’t change anything, and winning a medal is off the table. My mom and Tony were at my practice that morning; and although we did not speak, I saw my mother face to face, and I felt much better. I knew he was rooting for me with what happened. Tony is very supportive—and loud. There weren’t many people in the rink at that hour, so I could hear him yelling “Go, Nathan!” or “Yes, Nathan” every time I landed a flight. With all the stress out of the way, I went through the motions of my project at that job.

During that season, Yuzuru comes for his training session. I was still on the ice as he arrived and began to relax. He is, of course, in the lead after the short program, with a margin of 4.1 over Javier Fernandez, who is second. Maybe I’m just guessing, but in my opinion, it looks like Yuzuru is taking this opportunity and really enjoying his second Olympics and maybe defending his Olympic title. It’s not an easy place, and he made a lot of effort to regain the Olympic champion, which has not been done since Dick Button in 1948 and 1952. But, before looking at the anxiety and dissatisfaction with those feelings. He was content and just thankful to have the competition there. I remember that I didn’t see those feelings once in this competition. I never spoke to him, or asked him how he was; and maybe it was in my own mind, because my Olympics were full of stress and humiliation, but it was something that stood out to me from that performance.

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My approach to the free program is very different from the one before the short program. I no longer expect results. I’m not grateful for the opportunity to run in the Olympics, something I’ve dreamed of doing for a long time, but my goal has changed a lot. I talked to my family briefly, and through texts, they were telling me to focus on that respect—even though my previous two projects didn’t go well, I had another chance to compete. And it’s more than players can hope for.

At that point, it wasn’t about where I left it. I didn’t really care about getting the highest scores for my spins or my footwork, and I didn’t care if I failed every jump. I told myself that my goal was to start the project when the song started and finish when the song ended, and what happened in between would happen.

Although that approach is not respected, that thought is what I need to resist the “Olympic gold or bust” mentality that has weighed on me until then. I was sitting at seventeen, with almost nowhere to go but up, so I was left to run as far as I knew I could. And somehow, I did. I landed straight on all six quad jumps, and won the free skate portion of the event.

I did what my mother told me to do.

From the book ONE JUMP AT A TIME. Copyright (c) 2022 by Nathan Chen. Published on November 22, 2022 by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted with permission.

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