Chen Equals Boitano With 4Th Straight National Skating Title

January 26, 2020 - 3:16 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Rocketman has launched — straight to a fourth national title.

With stratospheric jumps and the sort of stage presence that even Elton John would appreciate, Nathan Chen won his fourth consecutive U.S. Figure Skating Championships men's gold medal Sunday. Skating to the score from John's biopic, Chen soared far above the competition, winning by more than 37 points.

The ninth man to earn at least that many U.S. championships in a row, and the first since Brian Boitano completed that kind of quad in 1988, Chen hit four quadrule jumps and six triples in his routine that had the crowd on its feet long before it concluded.

Chen, 20, has not lost a competition since a dismal short program at the 1988 Olympics ruined any chance at a medal. He's won two world championships and three Grand Prix Final's crowns altogether.

Plus the four U.S. titles as he continues raising the standards for men's skating even as he attends Yale full time.

“Each time you win, you gain more confidence," said Boitano, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist and a two-time world winner. “After Nathan won his first world championship, on ice he was like a different man. He has become a dominator, yet in an understated way, too. He learned so much in that short program at the Olympics and kept that in his head. He has not made those mistakes again. That's part of his toughness and sense of accomplishment."

Chen also owns a bronze medal from the team event at Pyeongchang and will be a favorite for a third successive victory at worlds in Montreal in March.

Joining him there will be Jason Brown and Tomoki Hiwatashi.

The last American man to win three consecutive world titles was Scott Hamilton with his fourth in a row in 1984.

Brown was the 2015 national champion here in Greensboro and 2014 team bronze at the Sochi Olympics. He has impressively improved his technical skills since linking up in Canada with renowned coach Brian Orser, who trains two-time Olympic winner Yuzuru Hanyu. He's always had the kind of artistry that can mesmerize.

Hiwatashi, 20, did some mesmerizing of his own in moving up from fifth in the short program. At the end of his exhausting routine, the 2019 junior world champion who was fourth at nationals a year ago, raised his open hand to the sky. He'd landed two quads and seven triples to grab his spot for Montreal.

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