Nathan Chen

We may know him as the 2X World Champion, Olympic medalist, and figure skating sensation, Nathan Chen. 
But what we may not have known are the numerous trials, struggles, and stumbles that have strengthened this athlete to get him to the top.  

Often times at a young age, we have many interests and hobbies, a vast majority of which are grown out of.  This wasn’t the case for Nathan Chen.  Having skated since the age of 3, as he grew into himself and began to flourish, so did his craft.

With the help and encouragement of supportive guidance, his hobby became his passion, which in turn lead him to his successes that we now recognize and commend. 

 “As I grew older, I was fortunate to constantly be surrounded by people who supported each aspect of skating.”  When we are surrounded and influenced by those that see the potential in us, it makes it easier to thrive and realize our true ability and capacity. 

 “While I explored different directions in skating and found new people to work with, the stable foundation of support never changed.  Just knowing that I can

trust those closest to me, on my team and in my personal life, has been truly helpful in directing and guiding me towards what I’ve set out to accomplish.”

Self Expression;

“I think the most successful skaters are the ones who are able to truly become themselves.”

The importance of bringing our self-expression and personalities into our purpose, as mentioned in our conversation with Kenan Thompson, is paramount.   When we are truly ourselves, and we bring that truth into what we do, we achieve more than we may have believed to be possible.  


 For Nathan, the importance of expressing his character has been a ruling factor in his journey.

“I think that coming from the perspective of a figure skater and someone who’s done this their whole life, I can confidently say that showing your personality on the ice is extremely important and integral to getting the results that you want.”

With so much musicality and interpretation, figure skating is easily one of the most expressive sports.  Since half of the score is determined by creative components, to maximize that score, skaters need to bring their best, as well as themselves, to the table.  

“Creative expression is the foundation of skating.  I think that the most successful skaters, as far as technique and individuality go, are the ones who can truly become themselves as they develop as a skater.”

The perfect example of this, stated Nathan, is skater Adam Rippon, who recently came out as a gay athlete. Having trained together for close to five years, Nathan was able to witness Adam’s evolution as he grew into himself and his craft. The embodiment of who he truly was, reflected not only in his personal life but in his performance as well.

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“You could see as he progressed into himself, fully being able to embody who he is and express his personality; his skating improved immensely. It was as if a huge weight was lifted off of his shoulders, and his authenticity propelled him forward.”

The improvement that comes with expressing our true selves and stepping into our own shoes, applies to everyone, regardless of what you specifically do. Whatever your line of work may be, as soon as you become comfortable in who you are, it reflects through yourself and into your craft.

Strength in Stumbling;

As we know, success is the finished product of what’s been mastered beneath the surface.  Facing struggle, trial, and stumble is nothing new to Nathan. Yet, it is within the struggles that we are able to reflect on who we’ve been, who we are, and who we can become.


“As athletes, we’ve all succumbed to some form of fallback that’s put us in a position that we didn’t want to be in.”

In 2016, as Nathan was transitioning into Sr. Level (a more advanced role), had a very bad injury that required surgery. Not to mention, this was the period in which athletes of his division started preparing for the Olympics.  
With inconvenient timing and unfortunate injury, Nathan was to be taken off the ice for 6 months.

“The field of skating develops very quickly.  New technique is being taught and achieved consistently, so missing a beat was not in my best interest.”

Right as he started to progress into his new role in Senior Level, Nathan came face to face with a rather large roadblock, thinking thoughts that his Olympic dreams may just be crushed.  

“My immediate thoughts were, ‘well I guess my Olympic dreams are over.’ Through that time, I realized the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people, especially in times of struggle.  At that time, I didn’t have a very good foundation in terms of physical therapy outside of the sport, so I had to look into remedies myself.”

Through his research and the help of his connections in the professional world, Nathan started his recovery process with a solid and steady foundation.  Being off of the ice for nearly six months, he came back more determined than before, with the intention to reach new heights.

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“As I healed and returned to my strength, I ended up developing a lot more resilience and power on the ice, landing jumps that I hadn’t been able to land before.  All of which propelled me to the position where I was then able to make the team and go on to the world championships.” 

Oftentimes in sports, we hear stories resembling Nathan’s; athletes who have become injured, choose to use the recovery time wisely, being able to then surpass previous limitations.  As mentioned by Kevin Love in our previous interview, using our setbacks to strengthen us is a superpower that everyone has access to.

If we choose to learn from the greats, using our trials as ways to transcend our limitations, reaching new heights and achieving new goals would become normalcy, and we would find ourselves ‘better than before’.


Don’t Get Too Comfortable;

Working to improve ourselves day by day, holds more importance than most would imagine.  It’s the one percent more, the one centimeter further, and the one-step forwards that bring us within reach of our goals.  

Nathan is no stranger to persistent improvement, learning these lessons of improvement and self-mastery from his parents, throughout the years, he has been able to implement this practice into his career.

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“Improving bit by bit and day by day is very encouraged in my family.  Whether it be the more mundane tasks such as homework, chores, and studying; as long as you’re putting in the effort and moving forward even half an inch, it aids in conditioning you for the more critical obligations in life.”

 A thought that never leaves Nathans head, which influences his personal development and discipline, is the reality that if he’s not moving forward, someone else is and that someone just might end up being his competition. 

 “If you’re not moving forwards, someone else is.”


Even though steady progression and forward motion are two key attributes to Nathans's philosophy, he says; time that is taken to slow down, reflect and restore, is just as crucial as the time spent grinding.

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“As necessary as it is to keep pushing forward and grinding, there needs to be time set aside for both regeneration and reflection.  
You have to take time for your health, both mental and physical; then once you find yourself in a recharged state, you can push forward again.”

Setting large scale goals to work towards, is vital in achieving the successes we wish to accomplish.  But, if we look a little bit closer within our goals, we will come to find numerous ‘smaller-scale goals’ that can be attained in a shorter time frame. 
By focusing on manageable goals that can be accomplished monthly, weekly, and daily, we can rest assured that each small feat, brings us one baby step closer to the bigger picture and our dreams. 

“For me, going to the Olympics and winning a gold medal is my dream, it’s what I’ve been working towards my whole life.  
By breaking it down into smaller pieces, I can look at the next year in front of me and reflect on what I’ll need to do in that time frame.   The same can be done for six months from now, three months from now, this month, this week, and today.”


When we are focused on what is manageable, becoming discouraged, and intimidated no longer holds space in our lives.  Each small step brings us that much closer.  You wouldn’t look at the top of the mountain as you climb, you’d focus on one foot in front of the other, and by breaking down our goals, we allow ourselves to progress slowly but surely in confidence.  

Dazzling, not Dazed; 

At such a young age, with the spotlight on him (literally), It would be easy to assume that Nathan’s relationship with overwhelming feelings such as distraction and overthinking are customary.  But, with the help of grounding and taking a step back, Nathan has found that in doing so, dealing with these feelings, becomes more manageable. 

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“That’s still something that I’m working on. I felt those emotions in 2018 at my first Olympics; being thrown into a competition at that level, so quickly, had a way of challenging me and I had a hard time wrapping my head around it.”

Feeling great pressure from the media, his supporters, as well as the competition, Nathan felt as if he ‘owed’ victory to those whose eyes were on him at the 2018 Olympics. 

“Now, having gone through that, with still so much still ahead of me and even more to learn;
I feel confident in saying that I’m doing this for myself.”

Having expressed great and sincere gratitude towards those who have been there for him throughout his journey, Nathan has embraced that this path is ‘his own’, as is the work and dedication that has been put into perfecting it. 

“I’m forever thankful and indebted to the people that taught me everything I know, and I’ll always be a mentor to those who need the same advice that I did.  With that being said, I love the sport, I love training, I love competing, and this is for me.”

 Bridging the Gap;

Being masters of our passions and craft is the sought-after outcome.  Yet, oftentimes when we close ourselves off to diverse possibilities and opportunities, we end up limiting our true potential.  To this, Nathan says that the idea of ‘being a master of one’, is overrated.  

“It’s always important to have a clear view on what you prioritize in your life, while putting in the work to excel in that field.  
Although, I also believe that the willingness to seek and learn new traits, doesn’t just come in handy in times of need, but helps one to advance into a more fulfilling life.”

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 When it comes to Nathan’s priority, not only is it a very physically demanding sport but in most cases, a sport that comes to an end before the skaters reach their late 20’s.  

Due to this fact, Nathan believes that by seeking alternate paths, before the time comes to hang up his skates, he will not be limited by what he can’t do but will have doors open for him regarding all that he CAN do. 

“For most athletes, figure skating is a short-lived profession.  Most males go on to skate until around 25-27, some may push it to 30, but the reality is that the career comes to an end quite quickly.”

 Being 21, Nathan still has a few secured years left in his career. But with the finish line in his line of sight, investing in education and in ‘what’s next’ for him, is a simultaneous priority.“I’ve enjoyed my experience as a skater, and I’ve cherished each moment I’ve spent on the ice; but it’s also necessary that I realize, there’ll be a moment when I’ll have to embody something else, and that moment, whether I like it or not, is soon.”

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Having devoted his whole life to his craft, Nathan says that letting go of his identity as a figure skater is something that he’s had to grapple with over the past couple of years. 


“I’ve definitely had to come to terms with the reality. Skating means a lot to me, and its been my identity since I was three, but it isn’t and can’t be everything for me.  I don’t think that skating is the sole purpose of who I am, and I think there’s a lot to what people are capable of and can accomplish, and I’m excited to explore that.”


Through education and plans of living out a ‘normal’ young adult life, Nathan believes that a lot of opportunities will present themselves, for him, and his future in the making.    

Take a Step Back;

“Give yourself rest time now and then to decompress and take a step back.”

It’s easy to become overly intertwined in our own lives, to the point that we end up tangling ourselves into our circumstances. In Nathans's opinion, the remedy to this is taking a step back, and looking at circumstances and challenges with an outsider perspective.

“Taking a step back and looking at the situation with a different point of view, really free’s me from becoming overwhelmed.  Realizing that what I’m currently doing is important to my life, but not necessarily important to other people’s lives, really puts my problems and responsibilities into perspective.”

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Everyone has their own struggles, trials, wants, desires, goals, and ambitions, and by realizing this, we allow ourselves to place a fresh outlook on what we put so much weight and emphasis on.  

“What I believe to be the biggest and most important thing in the world, may virtually mean nothing to someone walking outside of the rink.  Being able to conceptualize, that what I’m doing is important, but not really that important, is both humbling and decompressing.”

The point that Nathan is making is so important and is a brilliant reminder to not take ourselves too seriously.  One should always take their work, passion, and relations seriously, but never one’s self.  May we all lighten up a little bit and come to terms that it’s not the end of the world, we’ve got this, and it’s okay to laugh at ourselves.  

No Longer Pursue;


After having a ‘tough’ skate at the Olympics and not performing to his standards, Nathan says that through the experience, he’s been able to consider different outlooks towards what success and victory truly mean to him.

“I had a pretty tough skate at the Olympics, and I thought that I was able to do a lot better; so I was quite disappointed that I wasn’t able to get on the podium in that section of the competition.  Although I’m still striving towards that goal; even if it doesn’t happen, everything I’ve accomplished in my skating career has fulfilled me to the highest degree.”


The experience and enjoyment that goes into each dedicated moment, is what truly brings fulfillment into our lives, and makes our efforts worthwhile.  The importance of finding our tribe, taking on leadership roles, and learning while doing what we love, oftentimes holds greater value than the external awards and acknowledgments. 

“I think the experience and the journey hold more importance than anything else. 
 I would’ve never had access and exposure to the incredible people, wisdom, and success stories had I not been in this field.


With his new and improved mindset, Nathan has been able to look at the bigger picture and acknowledge all of the pro’s that have come along in his career, as opposed to the cons.  

100% True;

We asked Nathan Chen what he knows 100% to be true, his answer;

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“I know one hundred percent, that if you have a goal and you take the appropriate steps to get there, while you may not accomplish exactly what you set out to do, you’ll get very close. Through the journey, you’ll become incredibly fulfilled and satisfied, accomplishing more than you believed to be possible.”

At TrooMe, like Nathan; we believe that the lessons, gratification, and fulfillment, lie in the ‘doing’, not necessarily in the receiving.  When we do what we love, to the best of our abilities, taking one step at a time, focusing on what we CAN achieve each day, we will come to find that we are one step closer to the top of the mountain, and in reach of achieving our goals.

May we follow in Nathans's footsteps, giving one hundred percent of ourselves and our personalities to our passions, leaving time for rest and recovery, and remembering to never take ourselves too seriously.

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