Karen Chen: Fremont’s Olympic Figure Skater


NBC News

Karen Chen, a figure skater from Fremont, is set to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Andrew Fu, Staff Writer

Karen Chen, a resident of Fremont, California, was selected to be part of the United States Women’s Figure Skating Team at the 2018 Winter Olympics hosted in PyeongChang, South Korea. Nicknamed the “quiet assassin” for her stealth and stature on the skating rink,
the 18-year old has come a long way from her early skating days.

Chen began ice skating at the age of four and started competing when she was six. In the 2017 US National Championships, she got the highest score ever recorded for ladies figure skating. The skater’s most notable achievement was at the 2017 World Figure Skating championships, where she won gold. Chen outperformed several Olympic athletes such as three-time U.S. National Champion Ashley Wagner and qualified for Team USA to compete in the 2018 Olympics and 2018 World Figure Skating Championships.

Despite these victories, Chen has experienced many setbacks. Her long history with chronic back pain has challenged her on more than one occasion, but Chen managed to turn that into an advantage.

“My back condition forced me to strengthen other areas of my body, which made me more powerful overall,” Chen said. “In my weakness, I found strength.”

Chen has also experienced problems with her skates. The sole of her boots broke often because of Chen’s uneven growth spurt and the flatness of her foot, and this lead to frequent pains in her ankle. The ice skater now has a boot company to design custom skates for her.

Chen released her autobiography, Finding the Edge: My Life on the Ice on Nov. 28, 2017. It tells the story of her journey in becoming a champion figure skater and highlights the struggles that she faced.

“I am so excited to be able to share my story with my fans and with fellow skaters,” Chen said. “I wanted to show people that if you work hard, never give up, and believe in yourself, you can achieve success.”

Before competing at the Olympics, Chen went to consult her friend and idol, Kristi Yamaguchi, who was the first Asian-American woman to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. The two first met when Chen was 12, and Yamaguchi remarked that she saw potential in the young girl and believed in her from the start. Now, the former Olympic athlete signs Chen’s boots before every game for good luck.

Yamaguchi told Chen, “America is rooting for you! You can’t forget that— even with all the pressure that you’re feeling right now.”