Why Boston Sports Fans Should Know More About: Nathan Chen

Chen has set many world records and he's just getting started


Apr 30, 2022

NESN and Berkshire Bank celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month – honoring the impact, influence, and achievements of the Asian community in sports.

Nathan Chen is the No. 1 male figure skater in the world, a three-time world champion and an Olympic gold medalist, and he’s not even 23 yet.

Chen was born in Salt Lake City, UT to Chinese-immigrant parents and is the youngest of five siblings. His family inspired him to sample various activities at a young age. Chen started skating at the age of three and he played hockey, pursued gymnastics and ballet and played piano, which he still does today.

However, it was Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi, Asian-American figure skating icons, who exposed Chen to the idea of who can excel on the ice.

“Growing up in Salt Lake City, where most of my classmates and fellow athletes were predominately white, you don’t see that reflection of yourself as easily,” Chen said last October, per Andrea Thompson Peed of Yale News. “I see myself in these athletes, and I see how capable they are and how talented they are. If they can do it, hopefully I can do the same thing, too. Being able to see a face like yours helps a lot as an athlete.”

Chen competed in junior competitions and at the age of 16, he started competing at the national championships. There he became the first American man to land two quadruple jumps in his short program and four in his free skate. Chen’s ability to land clean quadruple jumps has earned him the nickname of “the Quad King.”

Chen is the first skater to have landed five types of quadruple jumps in competition — the toe loop, Salchow, loop, flip, and Lutz. He is also the only skater to have completed eight quadruple jumps across a single competition.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Chen made more history as the first Asian American man to earn an Olympic medal. 2018 was also the year Chen enrolled at Yale University, where he currently studies statistics and data science.

The 2022 Winter Olympics forced Chen to take a leave of absence. However, after taking gold and silver in Beijing, Chen is ready to come back to New Haven.

“The pizza in New Haven is top-notch, so really enjoy being able to spend time trying different things around,” Chen said, per NBC Connecticut.

Being Asian American is an identity Chen wears proudly. Even at a young age, he inspired many with his performance in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“I hope by providing young Asian-Americans a face that looks like theirs, I can inspire them to strive for their passions and goals,” Chen said, per Toyota.

While Chen has not committed to future competitions just yet, it’s clear the future is bright in figure skating as “the Quad King” will continue to dazzle with highlight programs in future competitions.

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Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images
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