Nathan Chen struggles in season debut

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Nathan Chen fell three times Saturday in his first figure skating event since winning the world title by a record margin in March.

Chen, who rebounded from placing fifth in PyeongChang to become the youngest male world champ in 17 years, opened what will be a unique season with a fourth-place finish in the six-skater Japan Open, a free skate-only event that includes some non-competitive skaters.

Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan won with 186.69 points, falling once and landing two quads.

Nobunari Oda, a 2010 Japanese Olympian who last skated on the elite level in 2013, and Spain’s Javier Fernandez, the PyeongChang bronze medalist in what could be his last competitive season, were second and third with 176.95 and 157.86, respectively.

Chen tallied 144.96 points, falling on three quadruple jump attempts (video here). It’s Chen’s first competition program with three falls in his senior career.

He competed for the first time under a new arrangement, as a Yale freshman training 3,000 miles from his California-based coach, Rafael Arutyunyan.

Chen’s first Grand Prix season event is Skate America in two weeks in Everett, Wash.

Russian Olympic champion Alina Zagitova won the women’s event with 159.18 points, 18.9 clear of Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakomoto. U.S. champion Bradie Tennell was fourth.

As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold….go to NBCsportsgold.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season…NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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