Nicholas Chou Returns to the Top in Championship Gold Men

by Troy Schwindt
Nicholas Chou
Photo by Quick Silver Shots

2007 U.S. Adult Championships Results and Photos

(4/14/07) - Even a nagging lower back injury couldn't keep Nicholas Chou (All Year FSC) from competing Saturday afternoon at the 13th annual U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships in Bensenville, Ill.

The Los Angeles-area skater decided before making the Midwest trip that he would wait until after the national competition to learn the results of an MRI.

Whatever the news, Chou will be enjoying his second championship gold men's title for months to come.

Chou executed his “Swan” program with style and grace, which included a beautiful double loop, double Salchow and Axel combination.

He won the 12-man event with 33.81 points. San Diego's Andy Schell won the silver after a five-year absence from the medal stand with 31.72 points. San Diego's Gilbert Chiang captured the bronze with 31.72 points and Mark Pepin of The SC of Boston was fourth at 29.92.

“I was a little nervous because my coach [Garry Mallett] wasn't here,” said Chou, who runs a GNC store.

Chou injured his back last summer after competing in the ISU international adult event in Oberstdorf, Germany, where he placed second.

“I didn't have enough time to have a new program this year because I got injured,” Chou said. “I wasn't even planning on coming (to the U.S. Adult Championships), but I did well enough at sectionals that I decided to come. When I get home I'll be getting the MRI results, but I didn't want to know before coming out here.”

Chou placed second in 2006, first in 2005 and was second in 2004.

Schell (All Year FSC), who won a silver medal five years ago at the U.S. Adult Championships, took a different approach this year and it paid off.

“My only goal was to keep my head up, smile and have a good time,” said Schell, who is coached by former Olympian and World silver medalist Julie Newman (Holmes) and 89-year-old Kenny Isley. “I hadn't medaled here in five years, and it was a silver medal in the championship division.

“It ruined things for me because all I wanted was the gold after that. So, my skating got worse and I kept trying harder and harder. Then I realized this is so stupid, just go out and perform, smile and give to the people. After I missed the double Salchow, I came around the corner and stuck my tongue out at the audience and rolled my eyes like ‘can you believe that I missed that?' So I was relaxed and had a good time.”

Schell, who's pushing 50 years old, said he wasn't expecting to ever win another medal.

“I would have been thrilled to go home with a hubcap from the parking lot,” he said. “This is the best silver medal. There's no such thing as the silver curse, just silver happiness.”

Chiang (San Diego FSC) experienced a couple of falls during his “Red Violin” program, but his double loop, camel sit and big Axel carried him to the bronze. Chiang was in Bensenville with his wife, April, and 6-month-old baby boy Rhyson. Chiang used to compete in ice dancing at the U.S. Adult Championships with his wife.

“It's very strange because I've done a few competitions this year and this is the only competition which I actually felt nervous,” Chiang said. “I'm not sure why, so I'm not particularly happy with the performance but I guess it will do.”

Mark Pepin finished fourth.