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Figure skater Nathan Chen plots path to next Olympics -- and Yale

By Emily Pacenti
Figure skater Nathan Chen plots path to next Olympics -- and Yale
U.S. figure skater Nathan Chen competes during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. File Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

SUNRISE, Fla., April 10 (UPI) -- World figure skating champion Nathan Chen has been accepted to Yale University, a month after returning home from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

It can be a challenge to get a degree while still in competition, nevermind earning admission to an Ivy League school. Chen credits the flexibility of online programs and a high SAT score for his success.

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"Everything that I've done so far has just been amazing and it's a huge honor to be admitted to an institution like that," Nathan told UPI in a rinkside interview Sunday in Sunrise, Fla., after a pre-show rehearsal for his Stars On Ice tour. "It's been a dream of mine to go to an Ivy and Yale itself is amazing."

Studying while competing at the international level -- including training for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Games -- was difficult, said Chen, who is 18.

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"But, fortunately, with online programs being much more relevant, I've been able to at least graduate high school," he said. "I did well on my SAT, which definitely helped a lot, but that was obviously just studying on a book."

Besides figure skating since age 3, Chen has also trained with the Ballet West Academy and competed in gymnastics for several years. He's dabbled in piano, violin and even hockey. His skating career has earned him an Olympic team bronze medal, a world title, two national titles and gold medals at this year's Grand Prix Finals and last year's Four Continents Championships.

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Now the challenge is to figure out how to balance an Ivy League education with his career as an international competitor. At Yale's upcoming "Bulldog Day," Chen will sit down with a counselor to discuss how it might work.

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Yale's academic schedule does have some convenient breaks. Skate America occurs during the October recess, Internationaux de France during Thanksgiving break and the World Championships over spring break.

The Ivy League move would leave some things up in the air regarding his California-based coach, Rafael Arutunian, who has been with Chen since the skater was 12. "I will help as much as I can," Arutunian told Ice Network. "He is my baby. I will be at his side, whatever happens."

On the ice, Chen's goal is to get back to the Olympics -- the 2022 Winter Games are in his mother's hometown, Beijing.

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"Yale will be a big challenge that I have to adapt to. I'm still looking to compete over the next four years and also 2022 is something I still want to achieve," he said. "Especially since it's in China because that's where my parents are from."

Chen will have to commit to Yale by May 1. He'll visit campus during a break from the Stars on Ice national tour, which runs through May.

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