NEW YORK — Nathan Chen had until May 1 to determine if it was possible to continue figure skating while attending Yale this fall. His decision?
“I’ve committed,” to the Ivy League school, Chen said at the Figure Skating in Harlem gala in Manhattan on Tuesday night.
The 18-year-old world champion plans to move to New Haven, Conn., after U.S. Figure Skating’s preseason Champs Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., typically in mid-to-late August. Classes start Aug. 29.
Chen spoke after attending Bulldog Days, a freshman orientation, in New Haven last week. Asked if he was recognized by other prospective students, Chen joked that he took about 400 or 500 photos. He also consolidated his belief that he can make this work.
“Trying to figure out a long-term academic progression,” he said. “Trying to figure out how to plan around [Beijing] ’22. I still have a lot of questions that I want answered, but I think that’ll come as time progresses.
“I want to have a test run, just to see how practice is going to work with school because I know there’s a rink about 30 minutes out from campus. I need to know what my course schedule will look like, like how many courses will be in the morning, afternoon and evening and when I can plan skating around that.
“Mostly right now it’s to make sure I’m willing to commit to Yale, they’re willing to commit with me, and that seems to be the case.”
Chen said he’s already brought up his ideal competition scenario for the fall — competing at Skate America in October and Grand Prix France in November. The Grand Prix Final in Vancouver in December starts on the last two days of classes before a weeklong break ahead of final exams. The world championships take place during spring break.
He would have to miss classes to compete at the U.S. Championships in January in Detroit.
“[Yale] said, typically, it should be OK,” said Chen, who is currently touring with Stars on Ice. “Those are some of the questions that I have that need to be answered.”
He has the option of taking up to two full semesters off before the 2022 Winter Games.
Chen would not be the first figure skater to attend Yale, but 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes did so after retiring from competition. Chen said he will probably have the same freshman adviser that Hughes had.
“This first year is to decide, see how much I can handle them both [school and skating], then go from there,” he said.
Chen does not plan to seek a second coach close to Yale to supplement his Southern California-based coach, Rafael Arutyunyan.
“I’ll try to get back [to California] as much as I can, slash bring Raf [to New Haven] as much as I can, but I think most of it will have to be done pretty remotely,” he said. “I’ll just stick with Raf and check in with him at the end of every week.
“I’ve spent 13 years of my life on the ice, so I already know the fundamentals of skating. Raf has educated me well to take the reins myself. We’ll try it. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, we’ll try to figure out something else.”
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