Beijing, China


Team ROC Figure Skating Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 3 ©Getty Images 369060384

Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) competes at the ISU World Team Trophy in Osaka (JPN) 2021@International Skating Union (ISU)

Japan’s super star Yuzuru Hanyu wants to go for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal as the Men’s event at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games opens Tuesday with the Short Program at Beijing Capital Indoor Gymnasium. With competitors ready for the challenge, it promises to be an exciting event.

The duel: Hanyu vs. Chen   

The battle of the quad kings around Hanyu and three-time World Champion Nathan Chen (USA) is one of the most anticipated events in Beijing. Will Hanyu do it one more time? Will Chen beat him like he did at the ISU World Championships 2019 and 2021? Or will one of the challengers spoil the party of the titans?

Hanyu seems to face an uphill battle. The 27-year-old Skater injured his right ankle last fall and returned only in December to competition at the Japanese National Championships – which he won over 2018 Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno and teenage sensation Yuma Kagiyama. Hanyu even went for the quad Axel. He did not land it successfully, but he proved that he is serious about this jump that nobody has yet landed in competition. “I have worked very hard on the quad Axel,” Hanyu said following a practice session in Beijing. “I still think, it is difficult, but it is my goal to land it successfully. Also, I do think that is it absolutely necessary to get a high placement at these Olympic Games.”

And Hanyu has done it all before. He was injured before the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, did not compete in months and then came out and won his second Olympic title. He also is the first to perform a quad loop in competition. The two-time World Champion has won all possible Figure Skating titles and aims at making history one more time – with the quad Axel and by equalizing the record of Gilles Grafström (SWE), who is the only other man to have taken three Olympic gold medals, but that was 94 years ago.

Nathan Chen (USA)  Team Event 2022 Winter Olympic Games Beijing(CHN) @GettyImages 1238170557 (1)

Nathan Chen (USA) competes during the Team Event - Men Short Program - at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games @Getty Images

Chen is up for the challenge. Since the 2018 Games, the now 22-year-old athlete has gained experience and confidence. He holds the records of the most quadruple jumps performed in one program by landing up to five. He also is the first Skater to have performed five different types of quads in competition: Lutz, flip, toeloop, Salchow and loop. The six-time U.S. Champion proved during the Beijing’s Team Event what he is capable of. He put out a clean Short Program with two quads and scored a personal best of 111.71 points, just 0.11 points below Hanyu’s record Short Program score. The American posted the highest seasons best in international competition with 307.18 points. Hanyu does not have a seasons best as he did not compete internationally yet.

Chen went back to successful programs from past seasons for his Olympic quest. He skates to “La Boheme” in the Short Program and to “Rocketman” in the Free Skating.

Hanyu has a new Short Program to “Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso” and to the Japanese movie soundtrack “Heaven and Earth”.

Yuma Kagiyama JPN Team Event MFS Beijing 2022 GettyImages 1238223989

Yuma Kagiyama (JPN) competes during the Team Event - Men Short Free Skating - at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games @Getty Images

Challengers on the rise   

While all eyes are on Hanyu and Chen, a group of strong challengers readies for their attack. Yuma Kagiyama (JPN) stole the show in the Men’s Free Skating in the Team Event, putting out four quads and scoring 208.94 points, the third highest Free Skating score in history behind Chen (224.92) and Hanyu (212.99). Kagiyama proved what he is capable of at the ISU World Championships 2021 when he grabbed the silver in his debut and even beat Hanyu.

Uno has come back to form after some ups and downs. He has also impressed in the Team Event with a personal best Short Program.

Junhwan Cha(KOR) 2021 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Tokyo (JPN) @ISU 1353040521

Junhwan Cha (KOR) wins gold at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating 2022 in Tallinn (EST) @International Skating Union (ISU)

Other contenders want to get to the podium as close as possible: 2022 ISU Four Continents Champion Junhwan Cha (KOR), 2020 ISU Four Continents silver medalist Jason Brown (USA), 2022 ISU European Champion Mark Kondratiuk (ROC), 2022 European silver medalist Daniel Grassl (ITA), as well as the creative Kevin Aymoz (FRA). Two-time ISU World bronze medalist Boyang Jin (CHN) struggled in the past seasons but hopes to rise to the occasion on home ice. 2019 World bronze medalist Vincent Zhou, who was with Chen on the silver medal winning U.S. Team, is unable to compete as he tested positive on COVID-19 as he and U.S. Figure Skating announced.

The Men’s Event starts on February 8 with the Short Program and concludes February 10 with the Free Skating. 30 Men have been entered for the competition and 24 will reach the Free Skating.