Nathan Chen is expected to be the star attraction in the figure skating at the 2018 Winter Olympics, as he leads the United States’ charge for gold.
The 18-year-old heads to Pyeongchang, South Korea, as the only unbeaten men’s skater in the world, having produced some incredible performances in the buildup to the Games. Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond is the favourite to win the women’s competition.
Meanwhile, one of the United States’ best hopes for a medal in the skiing comes in the form of Mikaela Shiffrin, who has been in sensational form in World Cup events recently. She’ll face stiff competition from compatriot Lindsey Vonn and a strong Italian team on the slopes.
Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press
Chen may only be 18, but he heads to the Games with so much expectation on his shoulders as one of the United States’ major gold-medal hopes.
The hype is not without justification. At the recent national championships, Chen dominated the field and skated with the maturity you’d expect from a potential Olympic winner.
Per the icenetwork Twitter account, he was a long way clear of the rest of the field:
“This is a kid who can step up to the plate and knock it out of the park,” Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic champion, said recently of Chen, per the Associated Press (h/t Press Herald).
There will be concerns that inexperience at the highest level might hinder Chen on the biggest stage here, although he’s stepped up to every challenge he’s had to face in his career so far. Provided he performs to his best, it’s difficult to see who stops him in the field.
Tony Avelar/Associated Press
The man who may come closest is defending Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who is part of the Japan team in Pyeongchang.
Meanwhile, team Canada will have high hopes for Osmond. After all, she was a silver medalist in Sochi four years ago and was runner-up again at the World Championships last year.