Figure skating champion Nathan Chen ‘impressed’ with S. Korean’s performance after fall

BEIJING-- As the reigning Olympic men's figure skating gold medalist and a three-time world champion, Nathan Chen knows a good skater when he sees one.

And from Beijing 2022, the American star came away impressed with how South Korean skater Cha Jun-hwan bounced back -- literally -- after a hard fall in his free skate.

While Chen ran away with the gold medal at 332.60 points, Cha finished in fifth place at 282.38 points. It was the best Olympic showing by a South Korean male skater, and his point total would have been higher had Cha not fallen trying to land his opening quadruple toe loop jump.

And it was the way Cha executed the rest of his elements, including a quadruple salchow jump, that impressed Chen the most.

"Honestly, I was very impressed with how he was able to compose himself and bounce back from a mistake like that," Chen said in a Zoom interview with international media on Thursday. "I've had falls like that before and it does not feel good. Most of the times, if I fall like that, I am just like, 'I am not going to continue to try.' It's really challenging to pick yourself back up from a fall like that. So I was very, very impressed that he was able to come back and hit a quad salchow like nothing had happened. That was very impressive."

Cha only attempted those two quad jumps. Skaters who finished ahead of him all attempted and landed more quad jumps. Chen, the greatest technician in figure skating today, landed five clean quad jumps in his free skate.

Because of how scoring works, a skater like Cha doesn't seem to stand much of a chance against Chen and other quadruple masters.

But Chen begged to differ, saying, "Skating is not just technique."

"While it does seem that is the case right now, given that the majority of the men are doing multiple quads in a program, there is certainly a lot of room that you can make up for points that aren't from quads," Chen offered. "I think, in the case of Jun-hwan, he has the ability to do more quads. He has a great coaching team. He has great fundamentals and great technique. It's just a matter of being able to fine-tune that. I think he's very, very capable of doing that."

Chen said as figure skating continues to evolve, it's difficult to prediction which direction it will go and how fast.

"Four, eight years ago, this wasn't what we thought things would look like. Who knows what things will look like four, eight years from now?" Chen said "I am interested in seeing how that goes. I know that Jun-hwan and other athletes are very adaptable and they're able to quickly accommodate to changes."

Source: Yonhap News Agency