Nathan Chen retains Skate America title in style

World champion sets new free skate best to secure first victory since starting at Yale College.

Nathan Chen made his autumn break from studies a successful one as he completed victory at Skate America on Saturday.

The 19-year-old world champion finished more than 40 points clear of his rivals after registering the best free skate mark since new judging criteria were brought in for this season.

Dancing to Woodkid's 'Land of All', Chen's clean routine earned him a score of 189.99 in Everett, Washington State.

For comparison, double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu managed 165.91 on his reappearance at last month's Autumn Classic in Ontario.

Chen's total of 280.57 was also the highest of the new season with Czech skater Michal Brezina a distant second on 239.51 points.

It was the largest winning margin at Skate America since figure skating changed its scoring system in 2004.

Russia Sergei Voronov took third place with 226.44 points, just ahead of Matteo Rizzo of Italy and home skater Vincent Zhou.

Nathan Chen performs his at Skate America, he won by a record breaking margin. Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Nathan Chen performs his at Skate America, he won by a record breaking margin. Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsNathan Chen performs his at Skate America, he won by a record breaking margin. Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

"Exactly where I want to be"

Chen admitted before the competition that he had struggled combining studying at Yale College in Connecticut and training 5,000 kilometres away from his California-based coach Rafael Arutunian.

But he showed little sign of that on the ice as he claimed victory for the second consecutive year.

The Utah-born skater started with a perfectly-executed triple loop before just holding on to a quad Lutz.

He was soon back on track with a triple flip into a triple toe loop, followed by an impressive triple Axel.

Next up was a quad toe loop into triple toe loop, and then a quad toe loop-double toe loop-double loop combination.

A triple Lutz was Chen's last jump in a programme comprising three quads, half the number he tried in his go-for-broke free skate at PyeongChang.

With more quads to be added, this was a real statement of intent from the American and the perfect response after his disappointing fourth place at the free skate-only Japan Open a fortnight ago.

Chen said of his free skate, "I felt great about it. It was totally appropriate for the time in the season.

"It's exactly where I want to be and I'm excited for the rest of the season."

Chen's next ISU Grand Prix assignment is the Internationaux de France in Grenoble in late November.

The Grand Prix Final takes place in Vancouver, Canada from December 6-9.

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