Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou Make U.S. Men’s 2018 Olympic Figure Skating Team; Zhou Responds to Racist Tweet

Part 2 of the press conference here.

On Sunday, Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou were named to the U.S. Figure Skating Team:

“U.S. Figure Skating announced today the men who will compete at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as part of the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team.

The men’s singles team is Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou.

Nathan Chen is the 2018 U.S. champion, successfully defending his 2017 title. Chen entered the 2018 U.S. Championships as the only undefeated male skater in the 2017-18 season, winning two Grand Prix Series titles and the Grand Prix Final. Chen is the only man in the world to receive credit for landing five different types of quadruple jumps in international competition.

Adam Rippon is the 2016 U.S. champion, and placed fourth at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. After winning silver at both of his Grand Prix Series assignments this season, Rippon earned his second-straight trip to the Grand Prix Final, where he placed fifth.

Vincent Zhou is the 2018 U.S. bronze medalist. He won the 2017 U.S. silver medal and ended last season as the 2017 World Junior champion. Chen has won U.S. titles at the intermediate (2011), novice (2012) and junior (2013) levels.

Alternates for the 2018 men’s Olympic Team have been named as Jason Brown (first alternate),Ross Miner (second alternate), and Max Aaron (third alternate).”


There was absolutely no doubt, especially after Saturday’s performance, that Nathan Chen would be named to the 2018 U.S. Men’s Olympic Figure skating team. However, the second two spots were up for grabs after some disastrous performances by Adam Rippon and Jason Brown at Nationals. Ultimately, Rippon was selected to be part of the team due to his body of work the past year and beyond.

Palo Alto native Vincent Zhou, was selected as the third member of the men’s figure skating team. To be honest, I don’t really follow Zhou even though he lives in the next town over, and only usually follow figure skating during the Olympics unless I happen to catch it on TV.

After the press conference, I had the chance to ask Zhou a question towards the end of the concurrent individual interview sessions of the press conference, asking him what was about Palo Alto that produced athletes such as Jeremy Lin and himself. He obviously recognized what I was getting at and responded (minute 5:56)

At first, I think I had noticed one reporter seemed to be a little put off by the question, as if it was not relevant (which annoyed me and definitely reinforced my thoughts on diversity in the newsroom). However, after Zhou answered my question, an Asian/Asian American reporter (I think from a local Chinese language television news station) asked about the racist tweet sent less than several hours ago after Zhou won the Bronze (minute 8:04):

(Of course that spineless racist tweeter deleted that tweet. I’d love to really found out who that tweeter was …)

To be honest, I was a little surprised that Zhou had received such a tweet, since I had not heard of other such racist tweets regarding Mirari Nigasu, Karen Chen or even Nathen Chen. But in the press conference, Zhou reiterated what he had tweeted. After that response, I felt that I was definitely happy to have asked my question regarding Zhou and his Asian American background.

Since I knew Nathan Chen was going to bombarded by reporters, I wanted to focus in on Vincent Zhou (and also, since he lives in the next town over, I figured I might be able to interview him down the road – though I haven’t had a chance to interview Jeremy Lin yet …). With some time remaining, I moved over to see what Chen was answering:

I think at this point in time, Chen is highly likely to medal at the Olympics and has a very good chance to win the Gold. From the past few days of observing Chen, he is supremely confident and a bit stoic and a bit matter-of-fact, something that his teammate Adam Rippon said that he was quite the opposite (with Chen nodding in approval of his description of their skating styles and personalities).

Asian Youth Sports Mania

ISU World Figure Skating Championships - Day Five

Bob Cook, who writes the youth sports blog “Your Kid’s Not Going Pro” (a personal favorite), sent us some links about youth sports mania in Asia.  This article from Joong Ang Daily talks about “Kim Yu-na kids, ” whose parents’ deep personal sacrifice and single-minded dedication aimed at making their children into the next Kim Yu-na even affect family planning:

“My husband and I actually had a plan to have a second child, but changed our mind when our daughter began to skate. I’m well aware that it would cost a lot of time and money to raise a skating child, and that is why we decided not to have another child for the time being, and instead, to focus our resources on supporting Bo-min,” Shon said

In Bob’s take on the story, he points out that one’s expert opinion that it takes a certain level of prosperity to have this kind of obsession with youth sports. I think that’s true to an extent, seeing how South Korean skaters, both in short track and figure skating, have done well as South Korea modernized, as well as Taiwan’s little leaguers who had a long dominant run in the Little League world series in the 70’s and 80’s.

Taiwan’s long run of Little League World Series wins shows that youth sports mania have been around in Asia for some time.  What might be new is a statistic about abusive behavior in youth sports in Asia directed toward coaches and referees.    A poll by Reuters says that while the US leads in the number of people who say that they have seen abusive behavior in youth sports games (60% – a figure that both Bob and myself find low), India trails the US closely with 59% of those surveyed saying that they saw abusive behavior.  An commenter on Bob’s post on this subject is skeptical about the data for India.  I’m not so sure.  In my experience watching and coaching youth sports, I have seen Indian parents yell at coaches and referees.   They were pretty tame, though, compared to the Asian (non-Indian) parent I saw throw chairs at a volleyball game.  Let’s hope that Asians don’t catch up to the US in this area.