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'This is not the end': Vincent Zhou looks ahead after withdrawing from Beijing Olympics

"This is the setup for a bigger comeback," the figure skater said in a video announcing he would not compete due to a positive COVID-19 test.

BEIJING, China — Long before Vincent Zhou competes, he gets to the rink early with a routine of visualizing his routine.

"I'm getting up at around 6 to skate at 9," the figure skater said. "Every single day I show up an hour before the first session, I get myself set, I cut padding for my ankles and do my whole warmup routine."

That routine has worked well for Vincent. At 17, he was the youngest member of Team USA at the 2018 Olympics, where he finished sixth and made history by becoming the first skater to land a quadruple lutz in Olympic competition.

He's been training at the World Arena in Colorado Springs since 2015. He's adapted to pandemic lockdowns by skating on a small sheet of ice in a barn, and hiking in the mountains to take advantage of Colorado's elevation.

"You have the altitude, which is great training because most competitions are below 6,000 or 7,000 feet," he said.

That training paid off at the U.S. Nationals in Nashville, Tennessee, where Vincent placed third, setting him up for a second trip to the Olympics.

RELATED: Colorado skater Vincent Zhou unable to compete in men's competition after positive COVID test

"This Olympics is going to be the most significant competition of my career," he said

But just as Zhou was visualizing his Olympic routine, he tested positive for COVID-19 during routine testing.

Zhou was getting on the ice when he had to step off, announcing on social media he was withdrawing from competition, ending years of work to compete in another Olympic games.

"I've taken all the precautions I can," Zhou said. "I've isolated myself so much that the loneliness I've felt the last month or two has been crushing at times. Unfortunately, I will have to withdraw from the event. This is not the end. This is the setup for a bigger comeback."

RELATED: US skating star Nathan Chen, Japanese rival Hanyu set for showdown

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