Nathan Chen demonstrates new era of music in figure skating

BEIJING (AP) — Initial there was the explosive hip-hop defeat fall, then a daring rap verse proclaiming, “The best of all time!”

It couldn’t have described Nathan Chen any improved.

On the barren sheet of ice, matching the fierceness of that power at the Beijing Olympics, was the commonly reserved U.S. determine skater, wrapping up a in the vicinity of-fantastic, gold-winning free of charge skate to cap his historic operate at the Winter season Games.

As he flaunted as a result of the past minute of his Thursday application at Money Indoor Stadium with this sort of pleasure and character, it was obvious the 22-12 months-old American’s diverse musical choices — in this case, a remixed, Elton John-hefty “Rocketman” medley of classic rock, pop, hip-hop and rap — marked a new, edgier dawn for successful performances.

“I’ve historically skated to quite slower speed, much more classical items, and so bringing in this speedier tempo (was) very remarkable,” stated Chen, a classically qualified pianist who’s been spending his no cost time in Beijing strumming his Stratocaster. “It was like, one thing that thoroughly just made sense, and it was just so substantially enjoyable to skate to and exercise.”

Conventional figure skating new music is normally classical or instrumental — Boléro, Swan Lake, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 — or expansive movie scores from movies like “Gladiator,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Moulin Rouge.”

But the Beijing Olympics has witnessed the increase of much more present-day, mainstream and offbeat songs that to start with took keep 4 decades ago in Pyeongchang, the initial Winter Games in which lyrics had been permitted. The eclectic mix of genres witnessed so much have developed a new tone in the most fashionable of performances, which are currently being closely rewarded by the judges.

Adam Rippon, a member of the American bronze medal crew at the 2018 Olympics, identified as Chen’s general performance a watershed moment for the sport and predicts that his soundtrack will inspire a new and distinct technology of athletes.

“It’s edgy, it’s exciting, it is younger,” explained Rippon, who allows to mentor figure skater Mariah Bell, one of Chen’s closest friends on the American crew. “When that hip-hop defeat drops, he’s gotten by way of all the technical aspects and he can just exhibit off his character and that adjustments your view of what you feel skating is.”

Chen’s not the only skater having a progressive approach to musical variety.

Elsewhere on the U.S. workforce, ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue’s rhythm software functions Janet Jackson’s socially-mindful “Rhythm Country.” Madison Chock and Evan Bates’ no cost dance is established to French duo Daft Punk’s digital beats and is intended to illustrate an avant-garde intergalactic adore tale.

“It was constantly music that I don’t forget, and of class, my mom and dad played it in our house and I grew up listening to it on the radio, but I assume our enjoy for Janet Jackson arrived due to the fact we fell in like with dancing to this songs,” Hubbell explained. “It took us by shock. It wasn’t essentially a fashion we considered we would seriously vibe with.”

Both equally dance duos gained their activities in the group opposition this previous 7 days with career-most effective scores, assisting the Americans to a silver medal that could sooner or later turn to gold relying on the end result of a Russian doping circumstance.

“Picking a genre that is nontraditional – you know, we skated to digital audio at the Olympic Games in ice dance. I really do not assume that, in my memory, it’s been carried out right before, and we’re proud to be a group that is ready to get threats,” said Bates, who alongside with the relaxation of the dancers will start specific competitors Saturday.

French skater Adam Siao Him Fa and Czech ice dancers Natalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler also tapped into the trend.

For his small program, Fa made use of a “Star Wars” medley also infused with hip hop, and for his no cost skate he sampled Daft Punk’s popular “Harder, More quickly, Stronger” refrain built iconic by rapper Kanye West.

The Czech duo’s rhythm dance utilized Madonna tunes that also showcased the rappers M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj.

“We preferred to provide a thing iconic. Like, when people today listen to it, every person will begin to dance,” Taschler reported. “We adore this new music. It’s tremendous dance new music and we are making an attempt to share this experience with the viewers and judges.”

It will be tricky to best Chen’s amazing display screen to songs by Elton John on Thursday.

It began with an understated, haunting snippet of “Yellow Brick Road” backed by extra traditional instrumentals. Then, his 4-moment coronation veered to the basic rock and pop strike “Rocket Man,” then ultimately turned to an electrifying “Bennie and the Jets” remix by the singer Pink and rapper Logic, who declared “Momma, I designed it/Legitimate story, I have upgraded.”

For Chen, that intended upgraded all the way to the gold medal.

“This plan, no make any difference what, is normally exciting for me to skate,” he explained, “And I beloved it.”

It surely manufactured much better recollections than four a long time ago in Pyeongchang, when his small method to music from British poet and lyricist Benjamin Clementine fell flat. Not even an incredible no cost skate two times later to an orchestral piece by Igor Stravinsky could salvage a medal for Chen.

He has appear a extensive way in the earlier four yrs, placing in untold hours to best his craft. And it came by on the ice in Beijing, where by the rap lyrics “I been runnin’ and gunnin’/Been fightin’ for something in owing time” have been by no means truer.

“When you enjoy a activity,” Rippon reported following marveling at Chen’s performance, “you want to see a minimal bit of you in there. And when you open up it to be unique sorts of songs … it’s likely to make people today truly feel far more included, additional provided. It tends to make it a whole lot additional obtainable to all people.”


Seattle-based AP journalist Sally Ho is on assignment at the Beijing Olympics, covering figure skating. Comply with her on Twitter at


More AP Winter Olympics: season-olympics and activities.

Kenneth Proto

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