Karen Chen is only 18 but she has already realized some of her dreams on and off the ice. Not only has she qualified to compete in her first Olympic Games, making the U.S. team in PyeongCheng, South Korea, she also has penned a book about her journey in becoming an Olympian.
Exceptional musical with a flair for performing, Karen is known for her ability to connect with audiences through her skating. She has relied on her creative skills off the ice through writing, with hopes of inspiring others with her story. Her book, titled, Finding The Edge: My Life On Ice, includes a forward by her longtime skating idol and mentor, Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi. Kristi and Karen both hail from the Bay Area, and Kristi has been mentoring Karen’s career from the beginning.
“I think I first had contact with her 12. She really just listened and paid attention to direction. Just observing her work with her coach at the time, not all kids have that ability to take direction and apply it, and she does,” Kristi told NBC News.
Born in northern California to immigrants from Taiwan, Karen first laced up skates when she was just four. A couple of years later, the sport became her passion, and she has devoted her life to skating ever since. Her brother, Jeffrey, also became a competitive skater, and their mom decided to relocate to Southern California to train with Tammy Gambill.
In 2011, Karen claimed first place at the intermediate level at the U.S. Junior Championships, and she followed that up by winning the national novice crown in 2012. In 2015, she made her senior debut at nationals, dazzling the crowd in Greensboro, North Carolina, by winning the bronze medal.
Karen suffered a disappointing 2016 national championships, where she finished eighth, but she came back vigorously in 2017. At the 2017 championships, Karen not only won the short program but she captivated the Kansas City crowd with her free skate to win her first U.S. title.
Karen earned a berth to the World Championships, and in her senior worlds debut, she became the highest-placing American woman, placing fourth.
Karen earned the bronze medal at the 2018 U.S. Championships in San Jose, earning a coveted spot as a member of the American team at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. In her Olympic debut, she placed 11th.
The youngest woman on the U.S. Olympic skating team, Karen has been inspired by the Olympic experience and already said she will train to compete again at the next Winter Games in Beijing in 2022.
“I really do love (skating) with all my heart and I want to do it for as long as I can,” she told NBC Sports. “I’m ready for Beijing, I’m ready for my next goal—I want to make the Olympic team again.”
In addition to her training, Karen enjoys teaching group skating classes at her rink. Off the ice, she likes to paint, read and listen to music. Karen is a fan of Totoro, a Japanese cartoon anime character.
Karen hopes her momentum is just getting started. She is young, and she is hungry.
Follow Karen on social media: Twitter: @Karebearsk8; Instagram: karebearsk8
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