Chen wins 5th straight US men's figure skating title
Nathan Chen skates in the Men's Free Skate during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP
Nathan Chen landed four clean quadruple jumps in the free skate Sunday to win the US men's figure skating title for a fifth straight season.
Chen's triumph in Las Vegas, Nevada, made him the first to win five straight US titles since Dick Button won seven straight from 1946 through 1952.
"It's incredible, something that I'll truly cherish," Chen told broadcaster NBC. "Dick has been an inspiration for all skaters since he won his seven in a row, so it's incredible to be able to try to follow in his footsteps and look forward to where figure skating continues to go."
Chen remained unbeaten since finishing fifth at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. Although he put a hand down on his first attempted quad -- an uncharacteristic error -- he added four more in a free skate that garnered 208.36 points.
His total of 322.28 points gave him the victory by a whopping 30.9 points over Vincent Zhou. Jason Brown was third as the top three places remained unchanged from Saturday's short program.
Zhou, who was within striking distance heading into the free skate, fell on a quadruple lutz and singled a planned quadruple flip.
Brown fell on his opening quadruple toe loop and also singled a planned triple Axel.
Chen said the championships, contested without fans in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, left him looking forward to trying to improve before the World Championships are scheduled in Stockholm in March.
"This program wasn't perfect and I know there are a lot of things I can immediately try to work on, assuming Worlds happen," he said, with a nod to the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cast uncertainty over the sporting world.
Chen said he'd found it "strange" in 2020 not getting a chance to face two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. The two last competed against each other in December of 2019.
The men's free skate capped four days of competition. Bradie Tennell won the women's title.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won their third US ice dance crown while Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier topped the pairs field at the first US Championships of their partnership.