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Nathan Chen, other top skaters stumble in Olympic team event

By Emily Pacenti
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Nathan Chen, other top skaters stumble in Olympic team event
Figure skater Nathan Chen of the USA placed fourth in the figure skating team event on Friday. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Team USA star Nathan Chen stumbled in his much anticipated Olympic debut in Pyeongchang.

While many countries in the team event sent their "B team" to the Winter Games' figure skating kickoff, the second group of men's singles skaters was a highly competitive pool. A sweep by Chen, 18, was expected. But following several other disastrous skates by competitors, Chen fell all the way to fourth place.

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Some initial stumbles took place in Group 1 skaters: Yan Han of China and Paul Fentz of Germany, neither major contenders.

When Patrick Chan of Canada took to the ice as the first skater of the second group, the repeat Olympian fell twice. Skating a short program set to Kansas, NBC commentator Johnny Weir described the performance itself as "dust in the wind." He came in third overall.

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Shortly after Chan, Chen skated for the first time on Olympic ice. He managed to land the first quadruple flip in an Olympic competition, but suffered one fall and a much more costly mistake on a quadruple toe loop. He popped the jump into a double, meaning he rotated twice on an element that required four complete revolutions. He received zero points for it.

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"I'm really upset that I let the team down with that short program. Definitely not what I wanted to put out," Chen told NBC afterward.

One of the only top male skaters to pull through in Friday's team event was Japan's Shoma Uno.

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The reigning Olympic champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, is sitting out the team event to gain extra practice time after a long recovery from injury. Uno proved to be a reliable replacement, rising up to take first and secure 10 team points for Japan.

Uno was the only skater of the night to break the 100-point mark, a barrier frequently broken by Chen, who ended in fourth, and Russia's Mikhail Kolyada, who fell all the way to seventh place in a disastrous skate.

Second place went to Israel's Alexei Bychenko.

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Figure skating continues at the Pyeongchang Olympics with the second part of the team event taking place Saturday at the Gangneung Ice Arena.

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