15 year old Karen Chen of Fremont, California took third in the US Figure Skating Nationals held last month in North Carolina. In instance that reminds me of what happened last year with Mirai Nagasu, she cannot compete internationally at the Senior World Championships in Shanghai because of how the sport’s rules are applied. The San Jose Mercury News recently published a profile on Chen that revealed her inspirations and the sacrifices that she and her parents make to enable her to compete at that level.
I found the sacrifices that her and her parents to enable her to reach that level to be quite extraordinary. She and her 12 year old brother, also a competitive skater, train 3 to 4 hours a day. They both attend a public online school so that they can have the flexibility to go to southern California as Chen trains in Riverside (the family now lives in Hayward in Norther California). Her parents both work as engineers, and her mother works at home full time so she can travels with the children. “Skating is so expensive we both have to work,” says her mother.
Karen is being mentored by another famous skater from Fremont, Kristi Yamaguchi. The two are said to text each other before and after every big competition. “Kristi is just the best,” said Chen. “She’s always there when I need her.”
Karen Chen missed the age cutoff by six weeks, as she turns 16 in mid-August of 2015. She knew she would have to wait, but added, “I really wanted to go.” Unlike with Mirai Nagasu’s situation last year, the rule did not originate from the US Figure Skating Association. The International Skating Union is said to have put in the age limits after Tara Lipinski won at the Olympics to reduce the competitiveness of US skaters. In the start of an amazing string of bad luck, Nagasu did get affected by this rule in 2008 when she won the US Senior Championship but did not get to compete at the senior World Championships. Chen will compete at the Junior World championships in Estonia instead this March, but is aiming for the 2018 Olympics. Nagasu took 10th in this year’s US Figure Skating championships.
(photo credit: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)