Lausanne, Switzerland


World Champion Nathan Chen (USA), 19, loves jumping and is known as the new “quad king” as he became the first skater to perform five quadruple jumps in one program, but he has proven that his skating is more than just jumps. The three-time U.S. Champion has developed his performance skills and his two new programs this season showcase this very well.

The Short Program to “Caravan” by Duke Ellington is upbeat and playful. “The short program is a lot of fun. As you know, Shae-Lynn [Bourne] did it and she brought the music idea to me and I had told her that I wanted something different to last year. We needed to figure out something that was different but still up to par with what I did last year. So she presented this music and I trusted Shae-Lynn, I know that she’ll do a good job, so this excites me and this sounds like a fun piece of music,” Nathan said. “We started choreographing it and, there isn’t really much of a storyline per se about the piece, it’s just interpreting. She put it that the music really makes people want to dance so she wants me to dance to the music so that other people are excited to dance as well.”

Nathan Chen (USA) ST GPFS USA 2018©International Skating Union (ISU) 1052574516 (1)

Nathan Chen (USA) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (USA) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

The Free Skating to the dark song “Land of All” by Woodkid – from the movie soundtrack “Desierto” – is a strong contrast to the Short Program, which is exactly what Nathan was looking for. “I originally chose the piece for the long because I needed something that contrasted the short,” Nathan noted. “The vocals are really interesting too: they are very deep and I haven’t really heard a voice like that before and I thought it was really cool. We chose that music and I gave it to Marie [-France Dubreuil] – she liked it as well – and we started choreographing more towards the sound of the music and not really the story of the music. In the music it is just, already, really deep and haunting and that is something that we wanted to create and then have it pick up at the end to make it more powerful with Sam Chouinard who did a great job choreographing that little last section. I guess, the story of the piece is different to what I was trying to interpret – it has a lot more layers to it. The music is the soundtrack to a movie called “Desierto” and the movie is about immigration into the US. Obviously, I don’t want to make my programs about this or anything political but, at the same time, just because it has that deep and darker meaning requires me to add another layer to my skating,” he explained. Even though the music and the theme are very serious, the skater does not feel it is too depressing. “I think that anything harrowing and anything dark has a depressing tone to it but, at the same time, it’s not about the depressing aspect, it is more about the fight to get through it,” he pointed out.

Nathan Chen (USA) FS GPFS FRA 2018©International Skating Union (ISU) 1064734280

Nathan Chen (USA) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (FRA) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

While Nathan wants to continue pushing the envelope technically, he also focuses more on the performance aspects. “Definitely, quads are very important. It is something, I think, is very important and something I will keep implementing and working on. I definitely get the most enjoyment out of doing quads especially – even in practice. So that if something that I still want to bring to the table in competition. But, of course, the program is not just about quads – there is a lot of emphasis on spins and footwork and choreography this season. That is something that I will definitely continue to try and improve on,” he pointed out.

Nathan Chen (USA) FS GPFS FRA 2018©International Skating Union (ISU) 1064733924

Nathan Chen (USA) at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (FRA) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Chen has started studying at Yale University last year, moved to the East Coast and is training a lot by himself, returning to long-time coach Rafael Arutunian to California whenever possible. He has managed balancing studying and skating very well, winning his two Grand Prix events, the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and his third consecutive title this season.

Training alone has its advantages and disadvantages for Chen. “It has its ups and downs. It’s nice having the ice to myself. I can play as much music as I’d like. You know, having all that, those are all pluses. I definitely really miss Romain (Ponsart) and Mariah (Bell) and Michal (Brezina) and having all these amazing athletes that I train with in California – not having them is definitely a big thing that is lacking from my skating. But, ultimately, I still have to get my job done during practices for the next event: I can’t really dwell too much on being lonely on campus. But being able to have the technology we have today is really helpful,” he shared. He stays constantly in touch with his coach Rafael Arutunian.

View this post on Instagram

my school’s alright I suppose????

A post shared by Nathan Chen (@nathanwchen) on

Studying on the other hand has given the World Champion a new perspective. “I think definitely having a new outlook on life through school is just allowing me to enjoy myself more on the ice. Before, all I did, was skating – I loved it but, at the same time it doesn’t give you enough time to just step away and understand the rest of the things that are going on in the world. So it’s nice to have time away from skating that I can focus on things that are important to me after skating and then also just come back to skating. So like have two separate things but in the same timeframe,” Nathan said.