Vincent Zhou is ready for his Olympic debut on Feb. 16.
“I feel like I’m ready to skate the two biggest programs of my life,” Zhou said in a press conference on Tuesday. “I’ve been preparing extensively for my eight minutes on the ice.”
The California native didn’t skate in the team event, but he learned a lot just by watching. After seeing his teammates reach high points and low points, Zhou relished in the triumphs (like Marai Nagasu’s free skate where she became the first U.S. woman to land a triple Axel in Olympic competition) and learned from the tribulations (like Nathan Chen’s fall in his short program).
“Anything can happen even to the best of us,” Zhou said. “I’m going to make sure to stay in the moment, stay present and trust my training.”
Zhou described teammate Adam Rippon, another U.S. athlete vying for gold in the men’s single skate, as “the father,” with himself and 18-year-old Chen as “the children” on the team. But he added that everyone on the U.S. figure skating team supports each other.
“I haven’t let my age be a distraction or a barrier to any possibilities,” Zhou said. “I’m 17, but I don’t really think of myself as an inexperienced youngster going into his first Olympic Games. I’m here to skate just like all the other skaters. I’m just here to do my job, try and soak in the experience.”
Born in San Jose, California, Zhou first laced up his skates at 5 years old and was winning national titles by age 10. In 2017, Zhou won his first World Junior Championship title, but it was his bronze medal at the 2018 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships which helped land him on his very first U.S. Olympic Team.