Chen repeats as novice men's champion

Moeller takes silver; Phengsy gets bronze

Nathan Chen blew away the competition in the novice men's event on Monday.
Nathan Chen blew away the competition in the novice men's event on Monday. (Paul Harvath)


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By Mickey Brown, special to
(01/24/2011) - Nathan Chen wasn't happy with how he skated in the novice men's free skate at the 2010 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and that fueled his determination to perform better in this year's event.

Boy, did he.

Chen blew away the field at the 2011 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships, scoring 110.93 points for his free skate and 163.40 overall to claim the U.S. novice men's title for the second year in a row. He won the free skate by more than 26 points and finished almost 36 points ahead of his next closest competitor in the final standings.

"I had a thought before the performance that I had to do everything as well as I could, and I wanted to show it for this nationals," Chen said.

The Salt Lake City native opened his "Hungarian Rhapsody" free skate with a double Axel-double loop-double loop combination and went on to land six triples (two in combination) en route to the convincing victory.

"I didn't focus on the pressure," Chen said. "I tried to think about how I'm supposed to do the program and how much effort I need to put in."

While his jumps were superior, it was the way he expressed himself throughout the program that he was most proud of.

"Last year after nationals I had a lot of shows. That helped me work on my performance," Chen said. "And I do ballet, and that helps, too.

Jordan Moeller edged Nix Phengsy by .37 points for the silver. Drawing physical comparisons to a young Johnny Weir, the slender, long-legged Moeller landed a double Lutz-double toe-double toe combo as well as a triple toe-double toe in his "Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor" free skate.

"I made a couple mistakes here and there. It could have been better, but for my first year at nationals, I'm real excited with it," said Moeller, the reigning U.S. intermediate champion. "I consider it a success."

Phengsy, who is of Laotian descent, landed only two clean triples but he asserted himself in other areas, as he was the only skater in the event to earn Level 4 for all three of his spins.

He said his family has sacrificed a lot for his skating career.

"They're really proud of me because they work really hard to keep me on the ice," said Phengsy, who won the U.S. intermediate silver medal last season.

The pewter went to Alexander Bjelde (whose last name is pronounced "Byel-dee"). Skating to the soundtrack of Sherlock Holmes, he landed a triple Salchow-double toe-double toe combination, which earned 8.1 points, the highest of any element in the segment.

Bjelde was off the ice after the sectional championships because of a stress fracture in his back and only started doing full run-throughs 3 ½ weeks ago.

"I didn't think I'd get in the top six," he said. "I'm so very happy with how I placed."