Nathan Chen‘s goal is to attend Yale beginning in August and compete in the fall Grand Prix series. He has until May 1 to figure out if that’s possible.
The recently crowned world champion confirmed Wednesday he was accepted to the Ivy League university among the six or seven schools to which he applied. Chen, 18, said he has until May 1 to decide if he will enroll in classes next semester, or he could lose his spot.
Chen is a native of Salt Lake City and lives and trains in Southern California. He has never been to the Yale campus in New Haven, Conn., but wants to make a long-distance student-coach relationship work with Rafael Arutyunyan beginning this summer.
He preferred Yale to other schools — including two safety nets in Northern California — in part because both he and the university want to work together to allow him to take classes and continue competing.
“First of all, it’s Yale,” Chen said from Florida, where is training for the Stars on Ice tour. “It’s a school that I’ve wanted to go to for a very long time, so that really in itself stands out to me. You know, the elite level of the school. Also, Yale seems like they would like to collaborate the best with me and try to figure out the best approach for me to work with both school and follow my skating dreams.”
Classes start Aug. 29. Fortunately for Chen, Yale has breaks from classes during the weeks of Skate America in October and the Grand Prix in 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.
Chen said he does not know what he will do if he cannot pull off the school-skating double. He could choose one or the other or try another school.
“As of now, the only two [definite] things is I’ve been admitted to Yale, and I want to continue working with Raf,” Chen said, “so we have to figure that out.”
Chen isn’t the first U.S. Olympic figure skating medalist to be accepted to Yale. That would be 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes.
But while Hughes attended Yale after retiring from skating, Chen plans to take classes while continuing to compete in this Olympic cycle.
Chen, an Olympic team bronze medalist, rebounded from a fifth-place finish in PyeongChang — where he entered as arguably the favorite — by winning the world title by nearly 50 points two weeks ago to end his season.
Chen said going into those worlds that he planned to continue competing next season under Arutyunyan regardless of his college choice.
He applied to “six or seven” colleges — mostly California schools, but two on the East Coast — and had not heard back from as of late last month.
“Applications were mostly just for the purpose of trying to get into the colleges,” Chen said three weeks ago. “Once I hear back from them, I’ll figure out logistics and see how I’ll balance them both [school and skating].”
While Chen figures everything out, he will be skating in Stars on Ice shows. NBCSN will air a Stars on Ice special on April 14 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. ET.
At Stars on Ice, Chen will participate in group and individual numbers, plus a special dance routine with Sochi Olympian and training partner Ashley Wagner alongside Olympian ice dance couples Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.
“It really boggles my mind as we were working on it, trying to figure out steps,” Chen said. “It’s really fun to do because I’ve never done anything like it. Hopefully it will look all right on the ice.
“We’re going to be next to [Sochi gold medalists] Meryl and Charlie, so I’m pretty sure you’ll notice the difference.”
Another headlining PyeongChang Olympian, snowboard halfpipe gold medalist Chloe Kim, tweeted last Monday that she was accepted into Princeton, but the tweet was later deleted.
Other notable Olympians to attend Yale:
Eddie Eagan (1920, 1924, 1932) — Only person to win a gold medal at the Summer Games in a summer sport and a Winter Games in a winter sport.
Bill Steinkraus (1952, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972) — Four equestrian medals.
Don Schollander (1964, 1968) — First swimmer to win four golds at one Olympics.
Frank Shorter (1972, 1976) — Munich 1972 marathon champion.
Mike Richter (1988, 1998, 2002) — Only U.S. goalie to play in three Olympics.
Sarah Hughes (2002) — Figure skating gold medalist.
Sada Jacobson (2004, 2008) — Three medals in sabre fencing.
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