U.S. star Nathan Chen skated his way into a long-awaited gold medal Thursday at the 2022 Beijing Games.
Looking confident and composed, Chen, 22, scored a high 218.63 in the free skate, building on a record-breaking short program earlier this week.
Chen ended with a 332.60 total score. Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama took silver and Shoma Uno, also of Japan, won bronze.
Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan’s two-time Olympic gold medalist and defending champion, put on a strong performance in the free skate with a score of 188.06, but fell short of the podium with an overall score of 283.21.
Four years ago at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, Chen had been considered a gold medalist contender but suffered a heartbreaking poor performance in the short program that sunk his chances.
This time, he set a new world record of 113.97 in the individual short program with a performance that included a quad flip, triple axel and a quad lutz-triple toe loop combination.
That score put him in the lead heading into the crucial free skate. Thursday’s winner was determined by by the combined scores in the individual short program and the free skate, which is longer.
Chen, of Salt Lake City, Utah, said Tuesday that he was “just elated” to do well.
“The last Olympics, both short programs didn’t go the way that I wanted, and finally getting the opportunity to skate the program to the way that I wanted — it feels really great, it means a lot,” he said.
Chen has excelled since his disappointing short program in 2018, but has excelled ever since, including in a free skate in PyeongChang that was called redemptive.
He also won world figure skating championship gold in 2021, 2019 and 2018.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.