For Nathan Chen, a 10-year-old's figure-skating dream is now an Olympic reality

PHOTO: Figure skater Nathan Chen is interviewed by ABC News Matt Gutman on Jan. 8, 2017.PlayABC News
WATCH Figure-skating dynamo Nathan Chen is headed to the Olympics

When he's not skating his never-been-done-before routine -- including an unthinkable five quadruple jumps -- Nathan Chen says he tries to keep himself "as normal as possible."

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He plays the guitar, does a little ballet to stay limber, rides his skateboard.

The 18-year-old from Salt Lake City, Utah -- fresh off his dominant victory at the figure skating Nationals in San Jose, California -- told ABC News Monday: "Really, I'm just a normal kid,"

But, when he's on the ice, Chen is anything but normal.

PHOTO: Nathan Chen competes in the Mens Free Skate during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on Jan. 6, 2018 in San Jose, Calif.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Nathan Chen competes in the Men's Free Skate during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on Jan. 6, 2018 in San Jose, Calif.

When won he won Nationals Saturday, he wasn't chasing the rest of the field; he seemed to be chasing perfection.

Earlier in the day he became the first skater in history to land five quadruple jumps in a single program. And on Sunday, he was selected to represent the U.S. at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

"It's so exciting," Chen said, who was just 10 when the last U.S. male skater won gold in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

And yet, he said he still had some things to tweak in his performance. Or one thing: a triple axel that he aborted mid-flight and turned into a single axel.

"Regardless of what I do, no matter how good it is, it's never in my mind 'flawless.' You know there's always things that I can improve on," Chen said.

Chen began his Olympic dreams when he was just 3 years old after watching the 2002 Games in his hometown of Salt Lake City.

"That was my dream," he said. "I really wanted to make that happen but I didn't think it would be possible, really. I thought 2022 would be more realistic."

PHOTO: Nathan Chen, 10, on Feb. 19, 2010. Then a fifth-grader, Chen was inspired to take up the sport after watching the Olympics.
ABC News
Nathan Chen, 10, on Feb. 19, 2010. Then a fifth-grader, Chen was inspired to take up the sport after watching the Olympics.

Now, Chen is on the cover of the Kellogg's Corn Flakes cereal box.

"I remember being a little kid walking down the cereal aisle and seeing all these Olympians and it's just unbelievable to think I'm, you know, currently on the box," he said.

But, in 2010, when Chen was just 10, he was already winning over the figure skating world, with his triple jumps and double jumps. That year, he'd also won the gold medal in the nationals’ novice division. He is also an accomplished pianist.

PHOTO: Nathan Chen, 10, on Feb. 19, 2010. Then a fifth-grader, Chen was inspired to take up the sport after watching the Olympics.
ABC News
Nathan Chen, 10, on Feb. 19, 2010. Then a fifth-grader, Chen was inspired to take up the sport after watching the Olympics.

He told ABC News Monday that landing the jumps remained the most fun part of figure skating for him.

"It's hard to find that feeling anywhere, honestly," Chen said, though he added that he'd been working on his skating artistry during the last couple of years.

For now, as he prepares for the Olympics, he said he was focusing on taking things one step at a time, working hard and staying humble, traits he credited his parents with instilling in him as well as his siblings.

"It happens in a blink of an eye and so you really just have try to savor every second," Chen said of his journey.

While he's cut out gymnastics and hockey with his older brothers and and missed going to a prom -- he got his high school diploma online -- Chen says he hopes to have a more "normal" second act as a skater, when he goes to college next year.

PHOTO: Nathan Chen performs during the mens free skate event at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif., Jan. 6, 2018.Tony Avelar/AP
Nathan Chen performs during the men's free skate event at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif., Jan. 6, 2018.

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