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Chen takes sixth title at US figure skating championships

(AFP)

Three-time world champion Nathan Chen, a top contender for Beijing Olympic gold, won his sixth consecutive men’s crown at the US Figure Skating Championships by capturing Sunday’s free skate final.

Chen scored 328.01 total points to take the overall victory after winning the free skate with 212.62 and setting a meet record with 115.39 points in Saturday’s short program at Nashville, Tennessee.

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“This was a really fun championships,” Chen said. “The crowd was amazing. This was a great time.”

Ilia Malinin, a 17-year-old prodigy who delivered four quadruple jumps, was second overall on 302.48 after scoring 199.02 to finish second in the free skate.

“I’m really happy and also surprised I got second,” Malinin said. “It’s definitely my dream to go to the Olympics and I really think I deserve to go.”

Vincent Zhou, the 2021 Skate America winner who placed sixth at the 2018 Winter Olympics, was third overall on 290.16 after placing fourth in the free skate on 177.38 and second in the short program.

“The competition was really tough,” Chen said. “We have a great group of athletes and I’m glad to be part of the generation.”

A US Olympic selection committee will pick the American men to compete next month in China, taking performances in other events into consideration, but Chen’s trip is all-but set in stone.

Chen, 22, finished fifth in the men’s event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, where he helped the US squad to a bronze medal in the team event.

After his Olympic defeat, Chen won the 2018 world title and began an unbeaten run in all competitions that ended only last October when he finished third at Skate America.

Chen set free skate and overall scoring records at the 2019 Grand Prix Final for his third straight triumph in the event.

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