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America Might Not Be Doing Much Right These Days, But By God We've Still Got the Best Damned Figure Skater in the World, Nathan Chen

These are tough times to be an American fan. And by that I'm not referring to an American fan of something; I'm saying it's tough to be a fan of America. We are not exactly on an international winning streak. Our economy is tanking. Our responses to disasters has been disastrous. When it comes to handling health crises, we're pretty much getting our dicks kicked in the dirt by places like New Zealand. Our Men's Soccer team just lost to Honduras, a nation with a population approximately that of Michigan. So yeah, in general terms, it's hard to point to one thing we do better than the rest of the world. 

So let me point in the very specific direction of Nathan Chen, the undisputed Best Men's Figure Skater on Earth. 

But you don't need me to tell you. I have no doubt you were as riveted to his Free Skate performance this weekend from Stockholm as we were in my house. Stately Thornton Manor was rocking off its foundation as he nailed this long program. That epic, flawless, fearless, five quad masterclass in focus and determination that leapt him out of 3rd place after the Short Program and onto the gold medal stand for the third consecutive year. And we were not the only ones:

NBC Sports -“There truly aren’t enough eloquent words I could use that would describe what Nathan just did,” his U.S. teammate, Jason Brown, said in a text message. “I watched in absolute awe.”

Chen landed five quadruple jumps, beginning with a lutz, the jump that had been his undoing in Thursday’s short program. His technical scores were orders of magnitude higher than anyone else’s, and his component scores were also the highest, wiping out a deficit after the short created by a fall on the lutz as surprising as it was rare, since Chen had not fallen on any jump since December 2018.

It was not easy by any means. Chen just did what the true greats do, make it look easy. Again. Back-to-back to indomitable back. Becoming the first American Men's skater to capture World's three straight years since the legendary Scotty Hamilton. And like Hamilton, you can't argue that this is a case of him not having any competition. This isn't some down period in the sport. To capture this one, he once again had to stare the three Japanese entries in the eyes and make them blink first. Including Olympic champ Yuzuru Hanyu. As it was, the three men from Japan finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th. They would've owned the medal stand, were it not for Chen's grit and determination. He was a steely-eyed missile man, stepping through those boards like a man with nothing to lose, left everything he had on the ice and treated the gold like it was his birthright. 

And then, like the humble literal and people's champion that he is, Chen made it all about someone other than himself. 

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And now, thanks to Chen's transcendent heroics and Jason Brown's own 7th place finish, the U.S. Men's team is assure three entries in the next Olympics. And you'd be crazy to bet against Nathan Chen to capture gold there as well. So if we've got nothing much else to celebrate these days, be grateful that after a few down years for the program, we still do Men's Figure Skating better than anyone. Hail to this true champion. Let's hope he makes it four in a row. 

Giphy Images.

Who needs soccer when we've got the real Beautiful Game?