Chen, who had been the favorite going into Thursday’s event, pulled off his win with a long program packed with moves to show off the technical prowess that has earned the 22-year-old the nickname of the “quad king.”
His long program opened with a quadruple flip, followed by a triple toe loop. He nailed every jump and move, with a total of five quad jumps, including a quadruple lutz.
Chen’s joyful and energetic routine was set to a medley of songs, including Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” Every jump he performed was met with roaring cheers and claps from athletes and other spectators in the “closed loop” side of the stadium — though the other side, holding Chinese spectators, remained largely silent, according to CNN reporters in the stadium.
The performance placed Chen well at the lead with a score of 218.63, combined with his short program score for a winning total of 332.60. Two Japanese skaters will take the podium behind him, with silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama coming in at 310.05 points and Shoma Uno taking bronze with a score of 293.
This has been a dream Olympics for Chen, who also set a new short program world record in the men’s figure skating event Tuesday, which put him in prime position for Thursday’s golden finish.
He is the seventh man to win gold for the United States in men’s singles skating, according to the Olympic website.
Thursday’s long program event had a disappointing finish for Japanese all-time great Yuzuru Hanyu, who fell attempting the fabled quadruple axel in his free skate — as he desperately tried to pull his score up.
The “Ice Prince” came into the competition in eighth place today after a sub-par show in the short program Tuesday.