#DancerDose: A Ballet-Trained Olympian, Nathan Chen
February 13th, 2018 by Richie Kormos
Are you all as excited for the Winter Olympics as we are? It’s revving up already and it’s sure to be an exciting year. The most exciting event for all of the dancers out there is the figure skating competition, and the skater to look out for this year is the U.S.’ very own, Nathan Chen.
Nathan grew up in Salt Lake City with four older siblings, who he always looked up to. In fact, they were the reason he started skating! He saw his two older brothers playing hockey and decided he wanted to follow in their ice tracks as a goalie. His older sisters were also figure skaters. After finding figure skating skates to be more comfortable than hockey skates, he started following in his sisters’ path. At just three years old, he was already skating in his sister’s white skates. And he would skate almost every single day since then.
A Mom’s Love
Nathan would not be where he is today without the wonderful support of his family. His siblings got him into ice-skating, but his strongest supporter was his mother, who is the reason why he continues skating to this day. She came up with fun little games for him to keep skating exciting and she traveled across the world for him just so he could continue with his passion. Nathan was extremely grateful for all that his mother did for him, just as we all should be! As she would drive him to the skating rink every day at three years old, they would pass by the Olympic torch of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Nathan trained with the Olympic rings right next to him, dreaming of the day he would get to compete next to those rings himself.
From Slippers to Skates
Like a true well-rounded dancer, Nathan tried on several different dancing shoes. He started taking ballet classes to help with his skating, but he found this new dance form to be a ton of fun! By the age of 7, Nathan was taking six ballet classes a week, and he took them very seriously. While he was training in ballet, he performed in several ballets, including: Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty. He trained in ballet for six years, and he still dances on the side as a form of cross-training. Nathan was able to take his exceptional ballet skills onto the skating rink. According to Nathan, “To have had that [training] at a young age, it definitely helps a lot. I know where to put my arms, how to create the line, how to dance to music.” Nathan knows more than anyone the importance of some good ballet training!
Destined For Greatness
With his ballet training giving him an extra kick, Nathan rocked the skating world. Working his way through the ranks, Nathan would go on to win tons of awards. He is a four four-time U.S. national champion (2010 and 2011 in the Novice category, 2012 and 2014 in Junior). The win in 2010 made him the youngest skater to ever win the U.S. novice championship at only ten years old! That was only the beginning; as he continued his training, he continued to break records. His 2012 win broke the all-time scoring record for the U.S. junior championship.
At the 2017 nationals he made history once again to become the first man in international skating history to land five quadruple jumps in a four-and-a-half-minute long program, and he did it again to win in the 2018 nationals! From then on, he was known worldwide as the Quad King. By the 2018 win, he had more than proved he was a superstar and he was able to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team, realizing his life-long dream. Nathan was named by many as the U.S.’s best chance to win the gold, but all that pressure may have got to him.
Never Giving Up
In last week’s short program event, Nathan struggled with the jumps that usually make him great and he fell on a triple axle, landing him a placement in fourth. While this definitely upset him, Nathan is not feeling defeated. He isn’t focusing on falling, but getting back up. Right after the short program, he said that the performance was “definitely not a representation of who I am and what I can do, but (I) definitely just need to work harder for the next couple of days and plan appropriately.”
With his eyes on the prize, and more determined than ever, Nathan is getting ready to compete in the men’s singles event later this week and later take it home in the finals. We wish Nathan all the best of luck, and applaud him for his determination to overcome and succeed. That’s what makes Nathan the inspiration for this week’s #DancerDose. You’ve got this, Nathan!
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Aran Abilock is a writer for StarQuest. He loves mac and cheese,
theatre, and all things Pokémon!