Making athletic history is no easy feat. But making athletic history while earning a spot on one of the most prestigious sports team around? That’s outright amazing.
And that’s exactly what Nathan Chen did during his figure skating routine at the 2018 United States National Championships earlier this week.
The athlete, who is only 18 years old, took to the ice at the SAP Center in San Jose, California looking confident and collected, despite the immense pressure he’s under. He’s about to attempt a routine that would literally go down in history if executed flawlessly—all while vying for a spot on the Team USA Olympic figure skating team.
The announcer’s voice informs that Nathan in the youngest of five children born to Chinese immigrants, and that in 2010, he told sportscaster Andrea Joyce that he’d be at the Olympics in 2018.
The realization of his prediction quite literally rests on his performance, which involves landing five quadruple jumps in a single program. No other skater in history has ever accomplished this difficult feat.
Despite the fact that he’s been sick and struggling in practice, Nathan’s routine starts off strong. He soars across the ice in a black unitard with a balletic sense of grace that many figure skaters strive for but never perfect.
When it comes time for his first jump sequence, a triple into his first quad, you can feel the tension—but Nathan completes it with apparent ease.
He continues his routine, seamlessly moving into complex footwork and a gorgeous spin. The music seems to be using his body as a physical vessel, directing his limbs how to flow like liquid across the ice.
After he nails his second and third quad jumps, it feels as if you could cut the tension in the air with butter. His nearly perfect routine all comes down to his one final jump, which he brilliantly lands. Finishing in a flurry of footwork and spins, the routine is an astounding display or artistry and athleticism.
Nathan leaves the ice with a knowing smile on his face and sits down with his coach to await the scores. Once it’s confirmed that he scored over a 100—a 104.45, to be exact–he knows he’s not only won the US championship, but that he’s also headed to PyeongChang to compete among the best in the world for the gold.
Watch his astounding performance below and share if you can’t wait to watch Nathan compete in the Olympics!