| USA TODAY Sports
GANGNEUNG, South Korea – After months of hype, promotion and at times breathless anticipation, Nathan Chen’s first two minutes and 40 seconds on Olympic ice were a disaster.
The 18-year-old American quad king, who has come into the 2018 Winter Olympics as one of the most heavily promoted athletes in memory, lived a nightmare in his short program in the team competition Friday morning.
Chen, the only undefeated men’s skater in the world this season, fell on the jump that has been his nemesis for several years, the triple axel, turned one of his vaunted quads into a double and failed to add a triple toe loop on the end of his first quad.
It was as shocking as it was troubling.
“I just wasn’t thinking of the right technical things before the jumps,” Chen said. “I was a little bit ahead of myself. Obviously, that’s not what I wanted to do on my first Olympic run but I’m also upset that I sort of let the rest of the team down.
“I’m glad I got the opportunity to at least put my programs down and learn from it, now all I can do is try to analyze what I did wrong and move on.”
Chen picked a terrible time to have perhaps the worst performance of his life, but he was fortunate that most of the other skaters in the men’s team short program weren’t very good either. The morning event was a splat-fest of thrills and chills, allowing Chen to slip into fourth place overall, good for seven points in the competition that will take place over four days. Adam Rippon will skate the long program for the Americans on Monday.
Pairs will end Friday’s competition.
Chen looked nervous and tentative, a far cry from his commanding presence at the last two U.S. national championships, which he won easily. But Chen said that wasn’t so.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Chen said. “I felt pretty comfortable, I was relaxed and ready to go.”
He did admit that he “got ahead of myself. I think I was a little too excited.”
Chen next competes in the men’s individual event starting next Friday.
“Having the experience to do it once allows me to do it better the next time.”