Long stints atop U.S. men’s figure skating were common for decades. No fewer than eight skaters, including Dick Button, Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano, have reigned for at least four straight years.
Boitano was the most recent American to manage the feat, though, and that was in 1988. Quadruple jumps were something new back then.
Nathan Chen, master of the quad, is on the verge of skating off with his fourth consecutive title at the U.S. Championships this week. He says such an achievement is not front and center in his mind.
“I have never really thought about that,” the 20-year-old Chen says. “It’s awesome to be able to be in a position for that to possibly happen. Of course, going to competitions you are driven by wanting to medal, wanting to, of course, stand on the top of the podium. But regardless, that is based on how results are scored and how the rest of the skaters do, and that is something that you can’t really control.
“I don’t like to typically think about that, but the fact of the matter is these guys have done that and that is incredible and it is amazing to be able to follow in these guys’ footsteps.”
Except that Chen, who also has won the past two world championships, has done a lot more than follow in their skate tracks. Yes, Hamilton was a trendsetter for his simplified costumes and his showmanship as a competitor — and then as a figure skating entrepreneur, spokesman and advocate. Boitano was as precise a skater as the U.S. brand of the sport has ever seen, equally superb technically and artistically.