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Nathan Chen captures men's figure skating gold

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Nathan Chen captures men's figure skating gold
Nathan Chen of Team USA poses with the American flag after winning the gold medal in the men's single figure skating final on Thursday. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Nathan Chen of the United States captured Olympic gold in men's figure skating with a phenomenal free skate Thursday in Beijing.

The dazzling performance from the three-time world champion at the Capital Indoor Stadium solidifies his place in figure skating history and turns the page on his disappointing fifth-place finish four years ago when he was the favorite to win in Pyeongchang.

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In 2018, Chen missed the podium despite finishing first in the men's free skate due to a poor 17th-place finish in the short program.

In Beijing, Chen again entered as the man to beat but was near flawless en route to his first gold medal and Team USA's third in these Olympics.

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Chen on Thursday scored a phenomenal 218.63 for his free skate to an Elton John medley of "Rocket Man," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Bennie and the Jets" that included five quads.

Combined with his record-setting 113.97 short program, Chen scored 332.60 to secure the gold by more than 20 points.

"It feels amazing," he told the media after the event. "I never thought I would be able to make it this far and I'm really happy."

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Chen said he wouldn't necessarily describe the win as redemption for four years ago because he learned so much from the loss.

"That experience gave me so much ... in terms of how to deal with high-level competitions," he said. "I definitely learned the most from my mistakes."

He is the seventh American man to win the top prize and the first since 2010.

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It is also his second medal of the Beijing Games after winning a silver earlier in the team event. He also won a bronze in the team event in 2018.

Yuma Kagiyama of Japan won silver Thursday with a score of 310.05 and fellow countryman Shoma Uno won the bronze with a total of 293.

The reigning two-time gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu missed the podium by 10 points. He scored a strong 188.06 for his free skate Thursday despite two falls, but an eighth-place 95.15 during his short program prevented him from edging out his country men for a medal.

"I honestly left everything out there," Hanyu told the media after the event. "I have nothing left to give. I was at top gear from the start ... I went for it, and it's something I'll cherish forever."

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Beijing Olympics: USA's Nathan Chen sets figure-skating record

Team USA's Nathan Chen reacts after his performance during the men's single figure skating competition at the Capital Indoor Stadium at the Beijing Winter Olympics on February 8. Chen took first place with a score of 113.97. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

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