Confident Chen soars to lead over Kolyada in Italy

Nathan Chen did what he had to do Thursday, and the two-time reigning U.S. champion is in position to win his first world medal — and, maybe, his first world title. The 18-year-old landed all of his jumps (including two quads) in his “Nemesis” short, and he leads with 101.94 points. -Getty Images


Grand Prix Final champion Nathan Chen grabbed the lead after the men’s short program Thursday at the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships in Milan, Italy, besting Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada by 1.86 points, while Team USA’s Vincent Zhou pulled into third with a personal-best routine.

Performing to Benjamin Clementine’s “Nemesis,” Chen nailed a quad lutz-triple toe, quad flip and triple axel while also collecting a Level 4 for two spins and the step sequence. The U.S. champion earned 101.94 points to take the lead heading into the free skate.

“I’m very happy with the way these world championships started, especially after having two rough short programs at the Olympics,” Chen said. “It’s been great to have the opportunity to try the short program again and I hope to redeem myself. Ultimately, I’m proud of what I did here.

“I am just going into the free wanting to be as clean as possible,” he added. “In terms of what I’m going to do, that is a conversation with my coach. Things can change, we still have a day in between, which gives me time to really think about it.”

Kolyada’s program to Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” featured an excellent quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop, triple lutz, triple axel as well as Level 4 spins and footwork. The Grand Prix Final bronze medalist scored 100.08 points to place himself within reach of the gold medal.

“I did everything I planned to. We made the program a bit easier and I did it well, so I was pleased,” the two-time European champion said. “I was in a fighting mood, it all felt good, I did everything I know how to and I did it well. I will do the same content (in the free skate) as I did at the Olympics. In order to get to the podium, you should not think about making the podium, you just do your job.”

Slotting third in the segment with a personal-best 96.78 points was Zhou, who landed a quad lutz-triple toe loop to go along with a quad flip and triple axel in his routine to Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.” The 17-year-old American, who is the youngest skater in the field, is now in position to pick up his first world medal.

“I came here to skate a clean program,” Zhou said. “I did just that, and being in the top three is the icing on the cake. It’s very important not to focus on placement, just on how I skate myself because that’s what I can control. In terms of quads, I will keep it consistent with the Olympics. I’ve been training some good programs, so I look forward to showing you that in the free.”

Reigning world bronze medalist Boyang Jin of China placed fourth after under rotating his quad toe, but he completed a quad lutz-triple toe combination, which enabled him to collect 95.85 points.

Despite battling an ankle injury, Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno was still able to corral 94.26 points to place fifth.

“Sadly, I am injured, but then I don’t feel any pain today so I didn’t know what was going to happen during the short program,” the Japanese skater said. “I made the jumps a little bit easier. But with everyone’s support I think I did really well and, hopefully, we can keep this momentum going for the free program.”

Max Aaron, the third American in the field, landed 15th in the segment after picking up 79.78 points.

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