Olympic figure skater Nathan Chen's parents and nationality explored

Joshua Rogers February 8, 2022
Olympic figure skater Nathan Chen's parents and nationality explored
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The US figure skater made history on Tuesday (8 February) by earning the highest short programme score ever recorded. Here, we explore Nathan Chen’s parents, Zhidong Chen and Hetty Wang, and his siblings.

Three-time figure skating world champion Nathan Chen won the first part of his showdown with two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu on Monday. The 22-year-old finished with a record-breaking short programme routine, scoring a world record 113.97 points.

“I was just elated,’ Chen told NBC. “The last Olympics both short programmes didn’t go the way I wanted. Finally getting the opportunity to skate the programme the way I wanted feels great.”

Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images

After he said he is ‘close to his best’

While the medals won’t officially be awarded until Thursday, Chen has put himself in pole position for a gold medal, banishing the demons of four years ago when he made a series of errors during his routine in Pyeongchang. Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu managed a score of 95.15, effectively putting him out of contention for gold.

“I’d say I was pretty close to my best,” said Chen. “Obviously there are always things you can improve on, there are always things you can do a little bit better, but overall I’m very happy.”

Nathan Chen’s parents, Zhidong Chen and Hetty Wang

Nathan Chen’s parents are father Zhidong Chen and mother Hetty Wang. Zhidong and Hetty were both born in China around the late 1950s and emigrated from Tianjin, China, to the US in 1988. They first lived in Carbondale, Illinois, before moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, where Nathan and his siblings grew up.

When they moved to the US they didn’t know a single person and Hetty couldn’t speak English. However, Zhidong had already obtained his medical degree in China and went on to get his doctorate in pharmaceuticals from the University of Utah. He also owns a small biotech company. Hetty works as a medical interpreter of Mandarin Chinese for hospitals, The New York Times reports.

Zhidong and Hetty have been supportive of Nathan’s figure skating career and always told him to never give up. In an NBC News interview via Bustle, he said: “My parents always enforced the idea of never giving up on all my siblings and me, and I think that’s something that will stick with me my whole life.”

Nathan Chen’s nationality in more detail

Nathan Chen is an American by nationality but is of Chinese descent. He has spoken about his ethnicity before, telling ESPN: “There are a lot of cultural differences between Americans and Chinese, and I think having both aspects be part of my life has helped me in a lot of ways, from an academic standpoint to an athletics standpoint.”

He has four siblings

Nathan Chen is the youngest of five children. Per Stylecaster, his eldest sister, Alice Chen, works in social media for Apple News and lives in New York City. She also has her own candle company, We Are Social Club, and has worked for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club and production company Hello Sunshine.

Janice Chen, his other sister, is co-founder of Mammoth Bioscience, a company dedicated to “improving lives by reading and writing the code of life”. She has a PhD from Doudna Lab at UC Berkley. Nathan’s brothers are Tony and Colin Chen, who are both hockey players.

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Joshua is a Senior Sports Writer at GRV Media with over five years of experience in online writing and editing. After receiving a BA (Hons) in Ancient History and an MA in Sports Journalism, he became a writer for a leading social publisher with over 7 million Facebook followers. Joshua then joined Reach PLC, covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online and regional publications like the Liverpool Echo. He then moved to a social media marketing agency and content studio, Brave Bison, acting as Website Editor for The Hook. Joshua now oversees all sports content on The Focus, specializing in NBA, NFL, F1, and tennis, while also keeping a close eye on his beloved Manchester United.