Nathan Chen takes commanding Skate America lead after short program

The world champion posted a score of 90.58, more than eight points clear of his rivals.

World champion Nathan Chen began the new ISU Grand Prix season strongly after taking a clear lead in the men's singles short program at Skate America.

He attempted one quadruple jump in his routine, and stepped out of a quad flip, but still scored 90.58 points. He sits 8.49 clear of Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic.

It's Chen's first competition since he won the world title in Milan in March, and also since he began his university studies at Yale.

Repeat win?

The signs are good for the American to retain his title on home ice.

No other Olympic or World Championships medallists are taking part in men's singles at this year's Skate America, and Chen hasn't been beaten in the U.S. since 2015.

Nathan Chen (USA) performing in the men's short program during 2018 Skate America, Everett, Washington. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)
Nathan Chen (USA) performing in the men's short program during 2018 Skate America, Everett, Washington. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)Nathan Chen (USA) performing in the men's short program during 2018 Skate America, Everett, Washington. (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

The 19-year-old has had a difficult build-up to the season.

In addition to his studies — he told NBC Sports Gold that being back competing was a "hell of a lot better than midterms" — he also fell in a pre-season display in Japan.

However, his pathway to qualifying for the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver, Canada, in December looks straightforward.

Neither Yuzuru Hanyu nor Shoma Uno, the two PyeongChang 2018 medallists competing on the Grand Prix circuit this year, are scheduled to take part in the same events as Chen.

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