Coach: Chen's future health more important than skating in worlds

Whether phenom Nathan Chen competes at either of the two 2016 world figure skating championships for which he has qualified will depend on a medical evaluation of the injury he sustained Sunday evening.

“What matters is not these worlds.  What matters is that he is healthy for the future,” Rafael Arutunian, the skater’s coach, told me by telephone Tuesday afternoon.

Arutunian said Chen was to see a doctor Tuesday.

The coach said Chen, 16, apparently aggravated a chronic hip issue on a quadruple jump attempt in Sunday night’s exhibition gala following the U.S. Championships.

Arutunian said he was already on his way back to California when the exhibition took place, just a few hours after Chen’s history-making four quads in the free skate helped him win the bronze medal.

“He has had these growth (plate) problems but he was fine for the competition,” Arutunian said.  “He didn’t need to do a quad in the exhibition.  He is too motivated.”

Chen’s four fully credited quads in the free skate were the first by a U.S. skater and also believed to be the first by anyone in competition.  Friday, he had become the first U.S. skater to land two quads in a short program.

He earned places on the U.S. teams for both the World Junior Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, where the men’s competition is March 16 (short) and March 18 (free), and the World Championships in Boston, where the short is March 30 and the free is April 1.

I asked Arutunian if he would now advise Chen to skip the world juniors, given the small amount time between the two world meets and the travel involved.

“There is a danger to do either of them,” Arutunian said.  “Nathan is ready to be in the (2018) Olympics right now.  The most important thing is to keep him heathy.”