Two-time national champion Nathan Chen will tackle the short program for the U.S. when the figure skating program opens with the team event at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Friday.
Chen is planning two quads in his short program, set to Benjamin Clementine’s “Nemesis.” He was chosen over teammates Vincent Zhou and Adam Rippon, a candidate to do the free skate, in part because his amplitude has the potential to get the U.S. team off to a great start.
He landed one of the two during a run-through on the practice rink Thursday.
“I feel like I'm a good addition to the team and also, we're at the Olympics, we get only one shot on the ice, so to have another shot is like a great experience,” Chen said. “It would be good to put the program out there before I get to do the individual.”
The U.S. took bronze behind Russia and Canada when the team event debuted at the Sochi Games.
Our lineup for the first day of the #WinterOlympics Team Event:
— U.S. Figure Skating (@USFigureSkating) February 8, 2018
“It’s nice. There a big period of time between this (team competition) and the individual,” Chen said, “so it's nice to have a little practice run first.”
Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim, the only American pairs team, will skate the short program on Friday and the free skate if the U.S. advances as expected. That will create a busy week for them with their individual competition beginning two days after the team competition concludes.
They are longshots to medal as individuals, though, so the team competition represents the married couple’s best chance to stand on the Olympic podium in South Korea.
“We’re both really excited being in the team event,” Chris Knierim said on a recent teleconference. “Even if there was another pair team, we would still be doing both of the events. It’s a big opportunity when you go to an Olympics and you get to compete your short and long for a normal Olympics. But now, for the team event, we have the opportunity to compete two more times in front of the world.”
There will be at least one big name missing from the team competition.
Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who is coming back from an ankle injury, will skip the event for the Japanese team. Shoma Uno and Keiji Tanaka will skate the men’s programs.
U.S. Figure Skating has not officially announced the rest of its lineup, but Adam Rippon confirmed after practice Thursday that he will handle the men’s free skate on Monday.
“Honestly, I have so much energy and inspiration right now that I could do the long program for everybody in the whole event,” Rippon said. “I’m just so happy to be here. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s a great way to get the competition started, hopefully get a medal for Team USA."