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Who is Karen Chen?

2018 Winter Olympic Games - Season 2018
2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Who is Karen Chen?

Get to know figure skater Karen Chen and her major accomplishments before she competes at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

Karen Chen won the 2017 U.S. National title, becoming the first woman not named Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold to win the title since 2011. The 4-foot-10 skater has occasionally struggled with boot problems, but she says they are now behind her.

Figure skating beginnings

Chen started skating at age 4, but by age 6, she says she knew she loved the sport. Her younger brother Jeffrey soon followed her onto the ice as an ice dancer.

Major competitions/ medals

Chen won gold at the U.S. National Championship in 2017 and was named to her first world championship team. In Helsinki, Chen finished fourth. Alongside teammates Ashley Wagner and Mariah Bell – who finished seventh and 12th respectively – the trio earned three berths for the U.S. at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

Breakout moment

Chen garnered a lot of attention after winning a bronze medal at nationals in 2015. Previously, she had won a Novice national title in 2012.

Wagner said Chen “saved the day” by finishing fourth at Worlds in 2017.

Records held

Chen’s short program score at nationals in 2017 was the highest ever recorded in ladies’ figure skating at the U.S. Championships.

Top quotes

“[Chen] has youth on her side and so much promise, and I think that's really exciting for U.S. Figure Skating. And I think that we definitely need a new crop of young girls to come in, because I will die one day, and you guys will need more people. So Karen, keep it up,” – 2014 Olympian, Ashley Wagner, said after 2017 Nationals

Olympic experience

Chen would make her Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

Outside the rink

Chen can speak fluent Mandarin Chinese, though she admits she isn’t perfect when reading or writing the language. She’s also able to understand Taiwanese, despite never being taught. She chalks it up to spending quite a bit of her childhood in Taiwan, where her parents are originally from. 

Chen also enjoys painting when she’s not on the ice.

One of her mentors inside the sport is Kristi Yamaguchi, the 1992 Olympic champion. Both Chen and Yamaguchi are from Hayward, California. Before Chen’s Worlds debut in 2017, the pair got together in a coffee shop. Yamaguchi advised to “skate dumb,” because it all comes down to muscle memory, and the body will know what to do.

Social media

Twitter: @KareBearsk8

Instagram: @KareBearsk8

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