Winter Olympics: Figure Skater Nathan Chen Stuns with Highest Men's Short Program Score Ever

Nathan Chen bested the competition in the men's short program with a score of 113.97

Nathan Chen just doubled down on his amazing Olympic performance.

The American figure skating superstar is heading into the second half of the men's individual competition with a strong lead after his performance in the short program on Monday night (Eastern).

Chen performed a program set to "La Bohème" by Charles Aznavour and executed a series of impressive jumps to move into first place with a score of 113.97. According to NBC, it is the highest score ever in a men's short program.

"I'm elated. Last Olympics, both short programs didn't go the way that I wanted and finally getting the opportunity to see the program to the way that I wanted feels really great, means a lot," Chen told NBC of his performance.

"Every opportunity that I get at competitions is one that I should be grateful for, especially the Olympics, that's a completely different story," he added of his mindset for this year's competition. "So I'm just really happy to be here."

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He finished ahead of a pairing from Japan: Yuma Kagiyama, who scored a second-best 108.12, and Shoma Uno with 105.90.

Nathan Chen
Nathan Chen competing in the Beijing Winter Olympics. Matthew Stockman/Getty

Heading into the event, Chen's prime competition was Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan.

Hanyu is a two-time Olympic champion and is eyeing a chance to win three consecutive gold medals in the men's single skating event. He would be the first to do so in close to a century. Yet, Hanyu ended the event with a score of 95.15, only good for eighth place.

Overall, Chen's skates at the Games so far have been night and day from his showing at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang. Hyped as the U.S. best contender for the country's first individual figure skating medal in years, Chen faltered — and fell — when he hit the Olympic ice.

Older and wiser, Chen had confidence heading into Bejing. He told PEOPLE in an interview, "I think that looking back in 2018, all I could think about was skating and not being able to, obviously, skate well. So I want to definitely be able to embrace the Games in a different way."

Now, he's learned to remind himself "like, yes, this is a pretty stressful time, but at the same time, there's a lot more to life. There's so much more than this individual competition than this one shot."

Canadian Roman Sadovsky, 22, was the first skater to take to the ice Monday night and performed a rendition set to "Breathe for Me" by Unsecret. He earned a score of 62.77.

Nathan Chen
David J. Phillip/AP

Next up was Nikolaj Majorov of Sweden, who earned a total 78.54 score during his set, accompanied by a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel song, "The Sound of Silence" by the rock band Disturbed. Majorov was visibly emotional after the performance and took a bow to cheers from those in attendance.

Lukas Britschgi of Switzerland performed to "Keeping Me Alive" by Jonathan Roy, and earned a score of 76.16. Aleksandr Selevko of Estonia came next and earned 65.29.

RELATED VIDEO: Olympic Medalist Gracie Gold Recaps Short Program Figure Skating at the Winter Olympics

Jin Boyang was the first skater from China to perform at Monday's event. He danced to an orchestral movement that gradually increased in speed and energy. He earned continuous applause and cheers from the crowd, and earned a 90.98 score, lifting him into first place after five performances.

Boyang would hold the lead until being bested by Russian Evgeniy Semenenko (93.76) and Kévin Aymoz of France (93.00). As the night went on, Semenenko would ultimately end up seventh.

To learn more about Team USA, visit Watch the Winter Olympics, now, and the Paralympics, beginning March 4, on NBC.

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