(Reuters) – Twice national champion Nathan Chen will lead America’s men’s figure skating team at next month’s Winter Olympics, U.S. Figure Skating announced on Sunday.
Chen, the only undefeated male skater in the 2017-18 season, will be joined on the team by 2016 U.S. winner Adam Rippon and teenager Vincent Zhou, the 2017 world junior champion, as U.S. officials overlooked Ross Miner, the surprise runner-up at Saturday’s national championships in San Jose, California.
The Feb. 9-25 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be the first Olympics for all three selected.
Miner was named the second alternate behind 2014 Olympian Jason Brown as the selection committee took numerous criteria into consideration in making its choices.
Rippon, 28, had finished fourth at the championships and Zhou third.
“I feel like I have better criteria than second- and third-place here,” Rippon told reporters after falling on his opening quadruple lutz jump.
Chen is the only man to receive credit for landing five different types of quadruple jumps in international competition.
“This is exactly what I wanted my entire life, and I’m ready for it,” Chen said when asked about going to the Games.
The 18-year-old, who was born in Salt Lake City, began skating on a practice rink designed for the 2002 Olympics, NBCSN reported. When he won a novice national title in 2010, he said on the broadcast that he would be a factor in the 2018 Olympics.
U.S. Figure Skating earlier selected national champion Bradie Tennell, 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu and teenager Karen Chen for the 2018 Games.
Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim were named as the pairs team to compete at the Games. The 2018 U.S. Champions, they are the only U.S. pair to complete a quadruple twist.
The ice dance team was also announced, with Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani given the spots.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Wilson, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar/Peter Rutherford)