It's official: 17-year-old Palo Alto teen Vincent Zhou has been selected for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Zhou was selected to be one of three athletes on the U.S. men's singles figure skating team, U.S. Figure Skating officials announced Sunday. Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon were also selected to represent Team USA.
"It is my greatest honor to be representing the United States of America at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea," Zhou said in a tweet Sunday. "This is a truly surreal opportunity in the midst of the greatest realization of aspirations I have ever known. Thank you all."
Zhou became the 2018 U.S. bronze medalist in Saturday night's 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center in San Jose, edging out competitors Jason Brown, Ross Miner and Max Aaron, who were nominated the first, second and third alternates on the Olympic team. Chen, who was defending his 2017 Nationals title, received the gold medal. Miner won the silver on Saturday, but he did not make the Olympic team because of complex selection criteria that include past and present competitions, according to skating officials.
Zhou was born in San Jose to parents who are Chinese immigrants. The family moved to Palo Alto when he was 2 1/2 years old, according to his webpage govincentzhou.com. He began skating at 5 1/2 years old after attending a birthday party at a local skating rink.
He attended Hoover Elementary School, but due to his demanding training schedule, switched to an online charter school, Capistrano Connections Academy. He now attends high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he trains.
He made his championship debut at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2012, where he was the youngest skater and won a gold medal. He won the Championships' 2017 U.S. silver medal and was the 2017 World Junior champion, according to his website.
In March 2017, he went from fifth place to win the gold medal in the Men's Free Skating at the International Skating Union's World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei.
But along the way, he has surmounted a number of challenges, including stress fractures to a foot, knee surgery and his father's life-threatening illness, according to his website.
He placed a disappointing ninth place at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Internationeux de France on Nov. 17-18, after falling twice during the short program performance. He greeted the challenge with a champion's heart, however, and chronicled his reaction in two-page letter he posted on Twitter.
"Today, I fought. I performed with all the passion and spirit I could muster. I made mistakes, I failed my expectations, and I am disappointed with the results. However, I am Vincent Zhou. I am young, ambitious, hungry, and motivated. But most importantly, I am still learning," he wrote.
The Winter Olympics will begin Feb. 9. All nominations by U.S. Figure Skating are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee.