But in the free skate he was superb, scoring 126.86 for technical virtuosity and 215.08 points for the overall free skate, a personal high.
Chen - already the only man to have hit seven quads over two programs in the same event - opened with the quad lutz, the most hard and highest-scoring jump.
But fans in Japan erupted into wild cheers of joy at the same moment that Japanese skaters took the top two spots in the men's figure skating competition at the Pyeongchang Games on Saturday. He missed on all his jumps, plummeting to 17th place with a tentative and passionless showing.
Hanyu's win gave the Japanese Olympic team their first gold medal of these games, and only the 11th gold medal ever given to a Japanese athlete at the Winter Olympics. "Just think about skating all day, all week, every day".
Chen's accomplishment also caught the attention of Hamilton himself, with Lin-Manuel Miranda congratulating him via Twitter.
"Honestly, it was bad", he said. I continued to make efforts for the two months during which I couldn't skate. Hanyu led all skaters coming into the second day of competition. Chen tumbled all the way to 17th place and will face a Himalayan climb to respectability. I think I've got much better jumps in me. Hanyu won the title with 317.85 points, beating compatriot Shoma Uno and multiple world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain to the second and third on 306.90 and 305.24 respectively.
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For Fernandez, it was the flawless way to end his last Olympics, claiming Spain's first ever figure skating medal. "It has been unbelievable how he's been able to pull this off in such a short amount of time".
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Such is Hanyu's presence that Chen was faced with questions from reporters about whether being drawn to perform after him would have any impact on his own routine.
But Fernandez knew what his coach, Orser, did.
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The figure skater smoothly landed on five out of the six quadruple jumps and slipped the slipped while landing on another, he put his hand on the ice, but still rocked in all four rotations.
Still, Rippon's lovely, clean routines and outspoken political actions this year won Rippon more media attention than his peers, and his name was again the top trending term on Twitter after his routine, as it has been after each skate in the Olympic games.
"The past four to eight years, we have always had some wonderful athletes but to have like a big group of people that are like constantly going out and getting results and to I feel like I'm kind of a part of that movement in my sport is a pretty special feeling". No fist pumps, no giant smile.
Chen said earlier this week that after his poor skate in the team competition he had gone straight to the rink for 20 minutes of practice that had helped settle his head.
The program started with a quadruple lutz, which was followed by a quadruple lutz and double toeloop combination.