Portugal Colonial - Chen fires warning to rival Hanyu as Olympic figure skating begins

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Chen fires warning to rival Hanyu as Olympic figure skating begins
Chen fires warning to rival Hanyu as Olympic figure skating begins

Chen fires warning to rival Hanyu as Olympic figure skating begins

Strongly fancied Nathan Chen laid old demons to rest with a blistering start to his Olympics campaign in Beijing on Friday, as the figure skating competition kicked off.

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The American beat Japan's Shoma Uno into second place in the men's single short programme of the teams event, with Chen scoring his highest of the season.

Chen, who along with Uno's compatriot Yuzuru Hanyu is favourite in the individual event, had a disastrous short programme at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics that dashed his hopes of gold back then.

Asked Friday if he had now banished those bitter memories, the 22-year-old said: "You learn the most from your mistakes.

"I don't think I'd be able to be here where I am now without having had that experience... rather than that being a demon I think that was a very helpful learning experience."

The Capital Indoor Stadium was mostly empty, with about 200-300 spectators tepidly cheering the skaters on, socially distanced a seat apart from each other.

The Games are happening inside a "closed loop" system in line with China's zero-Covid policy and tickets were not released for public sale -- those present were selected by organisers.

The 2018 singles silver medallist Uno, wearing a flaming red shirt, scored 105.46 for his controlled performance to an oboe concerto, a personal best.

But it was not enough to beat Chen, who was magnetic as he waltzed across the ice to Charles Aznavour's La Boheme and was awarded 111.71.

Russia's European Champion, Mark Kondratiuk, was third.

Chen is not getting too carried away yet.

"I might not be the most emotive person, but deep down I'm genuinely happy," he added hastily.

Chen said he would not be taking part in the athlete's parade in the opening ceremony later Friday, in part because of Covid-19 fears.

"You know, there’s close proximity with a lot of people. Certainly, I’m sure it will be safe but just... I compete in a couple more days, so at this point I’m focusing on that," he said.

The men's individual event will start on February 8.

Two-time defending champion Hanyu was not in the teams event and has not been seen in public in Beijing, but the Japanese Skating Federation posted a video of him on Twitter pledging to perform a quadruple axel at the Games.

No skater has ever landed one in competition.

E.Paulino--PC