Incredibly, Nathan Chen bombed again.
One week after a terrible performance in the team figure skating competition, the 18-year-old American hope for a gold medal fell apart again in his short program, making mistakes on all of his jumps and falling into 17th place.
In a disastrous two minutes and 40 seconds on Olympic ice, Chen fell on his quadruple lutz, stepped out of his quad toe loop and put both hands down and stepped out of his triple axel. He even failed to include a combination of two jumps together in his program.
It was, frankly, just awful – and an unfortunate mirror image of his team short program last week, when he fell on the triple axel, the jump that has been his nemesis for several years, turned one of his vaunted quadruple jumps into a double and failed to add a triple toe loop on the end of his first quad.
In a news conference Thursday, Chen said he had corrected the problems in practice over the past week, but that clearly was not the case. He skated cautiously and tentatively throughout, looking nothing like the championship skater he has been the past two seasons.
But there were tell-tale signs of trouble since the team competition. You could hear it in his voice every time he spoke, trying to reassure himself that everything was fine. He was telegraphing nervousness. And then he went onto the ice, and all his nightmares came true.