Eighteen-year-old U.S. figure skating world champion Nathan Chen appears set to become a Yale undergraduate next fall, according to the skater’s Instagram page.
Chen recently updated his Instagram page to include “Yale ’22” in the bio section of the platform. A screenshot of the update that appeared on the Facebook group “Overheard at Yale” on Sunday attracted immediate attention, receiving more than 1,000 likes within a day, as well as a flood of celebratory comments from Yalies. The skater’s spokeswoman confirmed that he has been accepted to Yale, which released admissions decisions last week.
“I’m really excited, both for him and for our student body,” Zach Miller ’21 said. “Yale is such a positive place for intellectual curiosity, exploration and growth, and I hope he finds our school comfortable and enriching.”
Chen has risen to athletic fame by mastering the art of the quadruple jump, which involves completing four revolutions in the air. He completed six quadruple jumps and won the gold medal in the men’s free program at the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships in Milan last month, becoming the first American winner of the men’s world figure skating title since 2009.
Many hailed Chen’s victory at the world championships as a moment of redemption, after the young skater’s disappointing performance at this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Anointed a gold medal contender in the days leading up to the Olympics, Chen placed 17th in the men’s free skating after his short program and saw his rank rise to only fifth after he attempted an unprecedented six quads in the long program and landed five cleanly.
In a recent interview with USA Today, Chen said he had already started to practice for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
By attending Yale, Chen is following the trajectory of figure skater Sarah Hughes ’09, who won gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics before coming to college. Hughes majored in American studies at Yale and currently studies at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Chen graduated from West High School in Salt Lake City last year and is currently on a gap year. In a 2017 interview with the International Skating Union, Chen said he planned to apply to college as a pre-med student — an interest shared by other members of his family.
“I know that being a competitive figure skater can take up your life, so I think it’s really cool and admirable that he’s also valuing his education and going to college, with also the intention of going to the next Olympics, which is something that athletes as talented as him might not do,” said Gemma Hyeon ’20, a figure skater herself.
Hyeon, a member of the Yale Collegiate Figure Skating Club — the only figure skating group on campus — said her group is excited to welcome Chen and help him transition to college life.
Kimberly Wei ’20, who placed 28th in ice dancing in the 2016 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, said that although she welcomes Chen’s apparent decision to come to Yale, she is “confused” about why the skater has decided to attend college at the peak of his career.
Wei, also a pre-med student, said she had to end her competitive skating career after coming to Yale.
“I’m very curious about what his future plans are going to be,” Wei said. “But nonetheless, I’m super excited to meet him and skate on the same ice as him.”
Jingyi Cui | firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction, April 3: This year’s Winter Olympics were held in Pyeongchang, not Seoul.