Battered skates give Nathan Chen the boot at World Championships

A disconsolate Nathan Chen at the end of his 2017 World Championships free skate. (Getty Images)

A disconsolate Nathan Chen at the end of his 2017 World Championships free skate. (Getty Images)

HELSINKI, Finland -- Everyone has a favorite pair of shoes, the ones so comfortable you will have them repaired over and over again and then wear them even after no repair will really hold them securely together.

For figure skaters, that situation is compounded by the stresses from torque and impact they put on their most important shoes: the boots with blades they wear in competition.

There frequently comes a time when a skater must decide between the risk in wearing battered boots and the risk in wearing a pair that is barely broken in -- or not broken in at all.

Such a moment occurred for Nathan Chen early in the week leading up to the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships, when the boots he had been wearing for three and a half weeks began to fall apart.

This time, he chose duct tape over new boots, because the other pair he brought with him to Finland was brand new.

Not having a backup pair ready to go is a mistake Chen is unlikely to make again, given how much he felt boot issues had contributed to a badly flawed free skate Saturday afternoon inside Hartwall Arena. He redid the program on the fly out of worry the boots would not let him perform the originally planned jumps properly.

It is one of the things the 17-year-old learned after two disappointing performances that would lead to a sixth-place finish in his world championships debut.

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