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Karen Chen
Karen Chen 2017.jpg
Chen at 2017 Skate Canada
Personal information
Country represented United States United States
Born August 16, 1999 (1999-08-16) (age 22)
Fremont, California
Home town Ithaca, New York
Residence Colorado Springs, Colorado
Height 1.55 m (5 ft 1 in)
Coach Tammy Gambill
Former coach Gilley Nicholson
Sherri Krahne-Thomas
Choreographer Drew Meekins
Pasquale Camerlengo
Karen Chen
Former choreographer Ilona Melnichenko
Massimo Scali
Rohene Ward
Marina Zoueva
Mark Pillay
Jonathan Cassar
Justin Dillon
Cindy Stuart
Skating club Peninsula SC
Training locations Colorado Springs, Colorado
Ithaca, New York
Former training locations Riverside, California
Began skating 2005
World standing 21 (As of April 6,  2019 (2019 -04-06))
Season's bests 37 (2017-18)
ISU personal best scores
Combined total 208.63
2021 Worlds
Short program 74.40
2021 Worlds
Free skate 134.23
2021 Worlds

Karen Chen (born August 16, 1999) is an American figure skater. She is a two-time CS U.S. Classic bronze medalist (2016, 2017), the 2015 CS Golden Spin of Zagreb bronze medalist, the 2017 U.S. national champion, and a three-time U.S. national bronze medalist (2015, 2018, 2021). Chen competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics, placing 11th. She has also competed at seven ISU Championships, achieving her best result, fourth, at two World Championships (2017, 2021).

Earlier in her career, she won four medals on the ISU Junior Grand Prix series, including gold at the 2013 JGP Slovakia.

Chen is currently the 18th highest ranked ladies figure skater in the world by the International Skating Union.

Personal life

Chen was born on August 16, 1999 in Fremont, California to Hsiu-Hui Tseng and Chih-Hsiu Chen. Her parents moved to the United States from Taiwan. She has a younger brother, Jeffrey, who also competes for the U.S. in ice dance. She was homeschooled via Connections Academy in high school. Chen has expressed interest in majoring in the medical field. She was admitted to Cornell University's School of Human Ecology as part of the class of 2023 and will major in Human Biology, Health and Society on a pre-med track. Chen originally did not plan to take any gap years or defer her education while preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics, but decided to take a two-year leave of absence after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chen's mentor is 1992 Olympic Champion Kristi Yamaguchi, who shares a hometown with her. Chen published a memoir titled Finding the Edge: My Life on the Ice in November 2017, in which she revealed that she suffers from spondylolisthesis. Chen enjoys painting and is a fan of the Japanese character Totoro. On 2019 International Women's Day, she was chosen to be one of eight POWERGIRLs that serve as brand ambassadors for social fitness blogger Cassey Ho's activewear company, POPFLEX Active.

Career

Early career

Chen began learning to skate in 2005. She won gold on the national intermediate level in 2011 and then gold competing as a novice in 2012. The following season, she competed on the junior level at the 2013 U.S. Championships, placing fourth. She made her international debut at the 2013 Gardena Spring Trophy where she won gold on the novice level.

2013–14 season: Junior international debut

Photos – Junior World Championships 2014 – Ladies (Karen Chen) (3)
Chen at the 2014 World Junior Championships

In the 2013–14 season, Chen received her first ISU Junior Grand Prix (JGP) assignments. She won bronze in Riga, Latvia, followed by gold in Košice, Slovakia, and qualified for the JGP Final. While practicing a triple Lutz, she sustained a type three tibia fracture in her right ankle. The injury led her to withdraw from the JGP Final. Chen spent four weeks on crutches and resumed training in mid-December. She withdrew from the junior event at the 2014 U.S. Championships after placing fifth in the short program. At the 2014 World Junior Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, she placed sixth in the short program, ninth in the free skate, and ninth overall.

2014–15 season: First senior national medal

In the 2014–15 JGP series, Chen won bronze at Czech Skate and silver at the Croatia Cup, respectively. She was awarded the bronze medal in her senior national debut at the 2015 U.S. Championships, behind Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold. Chen was not old enough to compete at the 2015 World Figure Skating Championships, and was instead assigned to the 2015 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, where she placed eighth.

2015–16 season: Senior international debut

Ahead of the season, Chen tried 14 pairs of skate boots. In September 2015, she finished fourth at the 2015 U.S. International Classic, an ISU Challenger Series (CS) event and her first senior international. Making her Grand Prix debut, she placed fifth at both the 2015 Skate America and 2015 Cup of China. She won bronze at her second CS assignment, the 2015 Golden Spin of Zagreb in December, and finished 8th at the 2016 U.S. Championships in January.

2016–17 season: Senior national champion

Karen Chen - 2017 World Championships
Chen at the 2017 World Championships

Chen began her season with at the 2016 CS U.S. Classic, placing third behind Japan's Satoko Miyahara and the United States' Mariah Bell.

On the Grand Prix series, Chen achieved a seventh-place finish at 2016 Cup of China and a sixth-place finish at 2016 NHK Trophy.

Chen won the gold medal at the 2017 U.S. Championships after placing first in both the short program and free skate. She set a new U.S. record with her short program score of 72.82.

At the 2017 Four Continents Championships, Chen skated to a twelfth-place finish.

Chen rebounded at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships, placing fifth in the short program with a score of 69.98. She then placed sixth in the free program with a score of 129.31. With a combined score of 199.29, Chen skated to a fourth-place finish overall in her first appearance at the World Championships. Her placement, combined with a seventh-place finish from teammate Ashley Wagner, qualified Team USA three spots for the 2018 Olympics and 2018 World Figure Skating Championships.

2017–18 season: Olympian

Chen began her season at the CS's U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, placing 3rd overall for the second year in a row. Before beginning competition in her Grand Prix series, Chen also performed a free skate at the Japan Open helping Team North America earn the bronze medal with a 6th-place finish.

Two weeks before her first Grand Prix event, Chen abandoned her "Carmen"-themed free skate program and replaced it with a program she choreographed herself including music from the 1978 film Slow Dancing in the Big City. With her new program, Chen placed 7th overall at the 2017 Skate Canada International.

Chen competed in her second Grand Prix event at 2017 Skate America and placed ninth in the short program after failing to land a triple loop. She improved to eighth place after the free skating, from which teammate Ashley Wagner withdrew due to an ankle infection.

At the 2018 U.S. Championships, Chen placed third in the short program and fourth in the free skate to win the overall bronze medal. As a result, Chen was selected to represent the US at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea and the 2018 World Championships in Milan, Italy. She placed eleventh in the Olympics and withdrew from Worlds; she was replaced by second alternate Mariah Bell after first alternate Ashley Wagner declined the invitation.

2018–19 season: Injury and withdrawals

Chen trained with her younger brother, ice dancer Jeffrey Chen, in Canton, Michigan during the two month-long 2018 Stars on Ice tour. She later relocated with longtime coach Tammy Gambill from Riverside, California to Gambill's new training base at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado over the summer. Chen will also work with coaches Christy Krall and Tom Zakrajsek in addition to Gambill.

Chen withdrew from early season events and her Grand Prix assignments, 2018 Grand Prix of Helsinki and 2018 Rostelecom Cup, following an injury during the off-season. She returned to competition at the 2018 CS Tallinn Trophy, where she finished ninth in the short program. Chen withdrew from the free skate due to injury. She announced her subsequent withdrawal from the 2019 U.S. Championships to focus on her health in early January. Chen later revealed that she had been suffering from a stress fracture in her right foot. In 2019, she also announced that she would be attending Cornell University in the fall, as well as returning to competition during the 2019–20 season.

2019–20 season: Comeback year

Chen returned to competition after sitting out the 2018–19 season due to injury, while simultaneously beginning her freshman year at Cornell University. She opened her season at the 2019 Philadelphia Summer International, where she won the silver medal behind training teammate You Young of South Korea. Chen then placed fourth at the 2019 CS Autumn Classic International in Oakville, Ontario behind Rika Kihira, Evgenia Medvedeva, and Lim Eun-soo.

At her first Grand Prix event of the season and first major international event since the 2018 Olympic Games, 2019 Skate America, Chen placed sixth in the short program and tenth in the free skate to finish eighth overall while battling a cold and sleep deprivation. She told media that despite her struggles balancing school and skating, “I do really enjoy everything and I think I made the right decision.” At the 2019 NHK Trophy, Chen placed third in the short program ahead of reigning Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia, but struggled in the free skate to finish ninth overall.

Prior to the 2020 U.S. Championships, Chen worked with choreographer Ilona Melnichenko to bring back the Slow Dancing in the Big City free skating program that she previously debuted and competed once at 2017 Skate Canada. She placed fifth in the short program and fourth in the free skating to finish fourth at the U.S. Championships, behind Alysa Liu, Mariah Bell, and Bradie Tennell, despite not completing a triple-triple combination in either program. Her pewter is the fourth medal that she has won at the senior level. As a result of her placement and Liu being age-ineligible for senior competition, Chen was named to the U.S. team for the 2020 Four Continents Championships. She was also named as first alternate for the 2020 World Championships.

Chen earned personal bests in all three segments to achieve a seventh place finish at 2020 Four Continents Championships, her highest ever after previously placing 12th twice. She told media after her free skate, "I am proud of myself for the last competition of the season. Ending on a high note is exactly what I wanted to do."

2020–21 season: Return to Worlds

Chen did not enroll at Cornell for her sophomore year, explaining that classes meeting only virtually meant "it wasn’t worth paying full tuition and not having the whole college experience," and instead returned to training full-time in Colorado Springs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ISU opted to make assignments for the Grand Prix based on training location to minimize international travel; Chen was correspondingly assigned to compete at 2020 Skate America. She placed fourth in the short program, underrotating the triple toe loop in her jump combination. She was second in the free skate, but remained in fourth place overall. Shortly thereafter, she competed in the 2020 Las Vegas Invitational, a domestic team event, and placed fourth among the ladies to help Team Johnny finish second behind Team Tara.

At the 2021 U.S. Championships, Chen was fourth after the short program due to several underrotations. She placed third in the free skate with only one major mistake on her triple loop. As a result, she earned the bronze medal, her third bronze at the U.S. Championships and her fifth medal overall. U.S. Figure Skating named gold medalist Bradie Tennell and Chen to the 2021 World Championships team, bypassing silver medalist Amber Glenn for Chen.

In March at the 2021 World Championships, Chen skated two solid programs and placed fourth. She was fourth in the short program and sixth in the free skate. Her placement combined with Tennell's ninth-place finish earned the United States three spots for the 2022 World Championships, as well as the opportunity to secure three spots for ladies' singles at the 2022 Winter Olympics via the Olympic qualifying event. Chen's role in saving the third American ladies' spot paralleled her performance at the 2017 World Championships, where she also placed fourth to help secure three spots for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Chen then competed at the 2021 World Team Trophy, where she finished sixth in both segments to help Team USA win the silver medal.

Programs

Photos – Junior World Championships 2014 – Ladies (Karen Chen) (2)
Chen at the 2014 World Junior Championships
Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
2021–2022
  • TBA
  • Butterfly Lovers' Violin Concerto
    performed by Takako Nishizaki
    choreo. by Pasquale Camerlengo
  • TBA
2020–2021

2019–2020
  • You Say
    by Lauren Daigle
    choreo. by Karen Chen, Ilona Melnichenko
  • The Ovation
    (from Slow Dancing in the Big City)
    by Bill Conti
    choreo. by Karen Chen, Ilona Melnichenko

  • Illumination
    by Secret Garden
    choreo. by Ilona Melnichenko
2018–2019

  • Illumination
    by Secret Garden
    choreo. by Rohene Ward, Marina Zoueva
  • Fire Dance
    (from Illumination)
    by Jennifer Thomas
    choreo. by Massimo Scali

2017–2018

  • Jalousie 'Tango Tzigane'
    by Jacob Gade
    choreo. by Karen Chen

  • Slow Dancing in the Big City
    by Bill Conti
    choreo. by Karen Chen





  • Lovers (Flower Garden)
    (from House of Flying Daggers)
    by Shigeru Umebayashi
    choreo. by Karen Chen
2016–2017
  • Jalousie 'Tango Tzigane'
    by Jacob Gade
    choreo. by Karen Chen

  • Butterfly Lovers' Violin Concerto
    performed by Takako Nishizaki
    choreo. by Karen Chen

  • Lovers (Flower Garden)
    (from House of Flying Daggers)
    by Shigeru Umebayashi
    choreo. by Karen Chen
2015–2016
  • Butterfly Lovers' Violin Concerto
    by Takako Nishizaki
    choreo. by Karen Chen

2014–2015
  • Requiem for a Tower
    performed by Escala
  • Requiem for a Dream
    (from Illumination)
    arranged and performed by Jennifer Thomas
  • Requiem for a Dream
    by Clint Mansell
    choreo. by Justin Dillon, Cindy Stuart
  • The Godfather Suite
    by Nino Rota, Drew Tretick
    choreo. by Justin Dillon, Cindy Stuart
  • Heart of Palm
    by Ding Dang

2013–2014
  • Esperanza
    by Maxime Rodriguez
    choreo. by Cindy Stuart
  • Miss Saigon
    by Claude-Michel Schönberg
    choreo. by Mark Pillay
2012–2013
  • House of Flying Daggers
    by Shigeru Umebayashi
2011–2012
  • The Godfather Suite
    by Nino Rota, Drew Tretick
    choreo. by Justin Dillon, Cindy Stuart
  • Butterfly Dance
2010–11
  • My Sweet and Tender Beast
    by Eugen Doga

Competitive highlights

GP: Grand Prix; CS: Challenger Series; JGP: Junior Grand Prix. Pewter medals (4th place) awarded only at U.S. national, sectional, and regional events.

2013–14 to present

International
Event 13–14 14–15 15–16 16–17 17–18 18–19 19–20 20–21 21–22
Olympics 11th
Worlds 4th WD 4th
Four Continents 12th 12th 7th
GP Cup of China 5th 7th
GP Finland WD
GP France TBD
GP NHK Trophy 6th 9th
GP Rostelecom WD
GP Skate America 5th 8th 8th 4th
GP Skate Canada 7th TBD
CS Autumn Classic 4th
CS Golden Spin 3rd 7th
CS Tallinn Trophy WD
CS U.S. Classic 4th 3rd 3rd
Philadelphia WD 2nd
International: Junior
Junior Worlds 9th 8th
JGP Final WD
JGP Croatia 2nd
JGP Czech Rep. 3rd
JGP Latvia 3rd
JGP Slovakia 1st
National
U.S. Champ. WD 3rd 8th 1st 3rd WD 4th 3rd
Pacific Coast 1st
ISP Points Chall. 5th
Team events
Japan Open 3rd T
6th P
World Team Trophy 3rd T
9th P
2nd T
6th P
TBD = Assigned; WD = Withdrew
Levels: J = Junior
T = Team result; P = Personal result. Medals awarded for team result only.

Novice level

International
Event 09–10 10–11 11–12 12–13
Gardena 1st N
National
U.S. Champ. 4th V 1st I 1st N 4th J
Pacific Coast 1st N 2nd J
Central Pacific 1st V 1st I 1st N
Levels: V = Juvenile; I = Intermediate;
N = Novice; J = Junior

Detailed results

Senior level

Karen Chen - 2017 Four Continents Championships
Chen at the 2017 Four Continents Championships
2020–2021 season
Date Event SP FS Total
April 15–18, 2021 2021 World Team Trophy 6
62.48
6
127.24
2T/6P
189.72
March 22–28, 2021 2021 World Championships 4
74.40
6
134.23
4
208.63
January 11–21, 2021 2021 U.S. Championships 4
70.99
3
143.99
3
214.98
October 23–24, 2020 2020 Skate America 4
68.13
2
136.77
4
204.90
2019–20 season
Date Event SP FS Total
February 4–9, 2020 2020 Four Continents Championships 8
67.28
6
133.78
7
201.06
January 20–26, 2020 2020 U.S. Championships 5
70.41
4
123.24
4
193.65
November 22–24, 2019 2019 NHK Trophy 3
67.21
11
98.49
9
165.70
October 18–20, 2019 2019 Skate America 6
66.03
10
99.64
8
165.67
September 12–14, 2019 2019 CS Autumn Classic International 3
60.89
4
112.77
4
173.66
Jul. 31 – Aug. 3, 2019 2019 Philadelphia Summer International 1
65.63
2
117.36
2
182.99
2018–19 season
Date Event SP FS Total
Nov. 26 – Dec. 2, 2018 2018 CS Tallinn Trophy 9
52.93
WD WD
2017–18 season
Date Event SP FS Total
February 21–23, 2018 2018 Winter Olympics 10
65.90
11
119.75
11
185.65
January 3–5, 2018 2018 U.S. Championships 3
69.48
4
129.11
3
198.59
November 24–26, 2017 2017 Skate America 9
59.53
6
123.27
8
182.80
October 26–28, 2017 2017 Skate Canada International 5
61.77
7
108.63
7
170.40
October 7, 2017 2017 Japan Open 6
116.32
3T/6P
September 13–17, 2017 2017 CS U.S. Classic 2
66.18
3
116.14
3
182.32
August 4–6, 2017 2017 Philadelphia Summer International 4
62.20
WD WD
2016–17 season
Date Event SP FS Total
April 20–23, 2017 2017 World Team Trophy 8
60.33
9
108.62
3T/9P
168.95
Mar. 29 – Apr. 2, 2017 2017 World Championships 5
69.98
6
129.31
4
199.29
February 15–19, 2017 2017 Four Continents Championships 12
55.60
10
111.22
12
166.82
January 14–22, 2017 2017 U.S. Championships 1
72.82
1
141.40
1
214.22
December 8–11, 2016 2016 CS Golden Spin of Zagreb 6
54.60
7
101.03
7
155.63
November 25–27, 2016 2016 NHK Trophy 7
58.76
5
119.69
6
178.45
November 18–20, 2016 2016 Cup of China 9
58.28
5
121.11
7
179.39
September 14–18, 2016 2016 CS U.S. Classic 6
51.50
3
110.58
3
162.08
2015–16 season
Date Event SP FS Total
February 16–21, 2016 2016 Four Continents Championships 12
53.55
10
107.97
12
161.52
January 16–24, 2016 2016 U.S. Championships 12
54.86
8
113.89
8
168.75
December 3–5, 2015 2015 CS Golden Spin of Zagreb 4
56.82
3
118.53
3
175.35
November 5–8, 2015 2015 Cup of China 7
58.30
5
117.63
5
175.93
October 23–25, 2015 2015 Skate America 4
62.28
6
110.26
5
172.54
September 16–20, 2015 2015 CS U.S. Classic 3
60.94
5
98.24
4
159.18

Junior level

Karen Chen in 2015
Chen at the 2015 World Junior Championships
Photos – Junior World Championships 2014 – Ladies (Karen Chen) (6)
Chen at the 2014 World Junior Championships
2014–15 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
March 2–8, 2015 2015 World Junior Championships Junior 12
51.64
8
105.66
8
157.30
January 18–25, 2015 2015 U.S. Championships Senior 6
64.66
3
135.13
3
199.79
November 18–22, 2014 2015 Pacific Coast Senior 2
54.83
1
116.75
1
171.58
October 8–12, 2014 2014 JGP Croatia Junior 1
62.71
3
106.70
2
169.41
September 3–7, 2014 2014 JGP Czech Republic Junior 1
60.68
4
100.27
3
160.95
2013–14 season
March 10–16, 2014 2014 World Junior Championships Junior 6
56.09
9
99.74
9
155.83
January 5–12, 2014 2014 U.S. Championships Junior 5
51.78
WD WD
September 12–15, 2013 2013 JGP Slovakia Junior 1
64.46
2
114.62
1
179.08
August 29–31, 2013 2013 JGP Latvia Junior 2
58.21
4
96.05
3
154.26
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