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Q&A with Karen Chen

Q&A with Karen Chen

The 4-foot-10 skater reveals how many languages she speaks and the secret behind her lucky charm

Karen Chen was the first female U.S. skater not named Gracie Gold or Ashley Wagner to win a national title in five years, when she took the title in 2017. The win propelled her to her first Worlds team, where she finished fourth in her 2017 debut.

What’s your favorite memory of the Olympics?

My favorite memory is watching Yuna Kim win her Olympic title at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

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What are some of your favorite movies?

Harry Potter, Up, Finding Dory, and La La Land.

What television shows do you enjoy watching?

Friends, and Thundermans on Nickelodeon

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Who has influenced you the most in your career?

My parents weren't athletes; however, they are always there to support me no matter how difficult and frustrating things got. If it wasn't for their love, support, and encouragement I would be where I am today.

Kristi Yamaguchi has also helped me so much. She has done so much more than just support me financially; she has continued to support me despite those rough times in the past. I couldn't be here if it wasn't for her and I truly can't thank her enough for her generosity and support.

Have you ever been seriously injured? How did you come back from those injuries?

I have suffered from many injuries in my career. I've had broken my right ankle twice (once when I was 9 and again when I was 13) and I have also dealt with a lot of foot/ arch pain, hip pain, and back pain. Having practically no arches in my feet, my body is practically a disaster waiting to happen. Although the whole process was very frustrating, I had to really work with my physical therapist to get healthy and strong.

Yet all these ankle injuries, wasn't in my opinion the most difficult to overcome. The most difficult injury I had to deal with was when I started having a lot of back pain and nerve pain down my leg because I had spondylolisthesis. After finding out about this spine "defect" it was really hard for me to trust my body. I constantly would doubt myself and was always afraid to arch my back because I knew I would feel pain in my lower back and leg. However, gradually I was able to overcome this fear and keep pushing forwards with everything I got.

Do you work with a sports psychologist? What is that process like?

Yes. Working with a sport physiologist really helped me realize all the doubts I have floating in my head, and how these doubts have a negative influence to my performance ability as well as my confidence.

What’s your biggest fear while at a competition?

My biggest fear when it comes to competing is being afraid. I know I don't skate/perform well when I'm afraid and scared to make mistakes. But it still happens to me every now and then. I strive to be fearless what I compete, because that's when I am able to show what I'm truly capable of doing.

Do you have any lucky charms?

I wear a rabbit-shaped jade necklace around my neck everywhere I go. It's something that was given to me when I was born, but I didn't start wearing it until I broke my foot when I was 9. It was from that moment on that I've worn this necklace to "protect me" and "keep me safe."

Can you speak any other languages?

I speak Mandarin Chinese quite fluently, however I'm not that great at reading nor writing Chinese. I also can understand Taiwanese, which was something that no one ever taught me, but I figured it had to do with growing up in Taiwan for quite a while.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an athlete?

If I wasn't an athlete, I feel like I would either be a full time dancer or an artist.

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