INSIDE:

NEWS/STORIES/ARTICLES
Book Reviews
Columns/Opinion/Cartoon
Films
International
National

NW/Local
Recipes
Special A.C.E. Stories

Sports
Online Paper (PDF)

CLASSIFIED SECTION
Bids & Public Notices

NW Job Market

NW RESOURCE GUIDE

Consulates
Organizations
Scholarships
Special Sections

Upcoming

The Asian Reporter 19th Annual Scholarship & Awards Banquet -
Thursday, April 20, 2017 

Asian Reporter Info

About Us

Advertising Info.

Contact Us
Subscription Info. & Back Issues

 

 

ASIA LINKS
Currency Exchange

Time Zones
More Asian Links

Copyright © 1990 - 2017
AR Home

 


Where EAST meets the Northwest


SENSATIONAL SKATERS. At the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January, the phenomenal Nathan Chen (top photo) set new world records while dominating the menís division, while the lesser-known Karen Chen (bottom photo) won the womenís side with an incredible performance of her own. Though the two are not related, both are united in their Asian-American heritage ó and their fluidity and strength on the ice. (AP Photos/Charlie Riedel)

From The Asian Reporter, V27, #3 (February 6, 2017), page 8.

Two Chens dazzle at U.S. Figure Skating Championships

By Mike Street

Special to The Asian Reporter

The future of American figure skating appears to be named "Chen." At the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January, the phenomenal Nathan Chen set new world records while dominating the menís division, while the lesser-known Karen Chen won the womenís side with an incredible performance of her own. Though the two are not related, both are united in their Asian-American heritage ó and their fluidity and strength on the ice.

Coming into Kansas City for the championships, Nathan Chen was already well known at the lower levels of U.S. skating. The son of Chinese parents, he had already won the U.S. Championships four times, twice at the novice level and twice at the junior level. But the 2016 season was his first at the senior level, and it started out with a huge leap forward ó followed by a shattering step back.

At the 2016 U.S. Championships a year ago, he became the first man to land two quadruple jumps in a short program and four in a free skate, and won a bronze medal. But just hours later, he suffered a hip avulsion during an exhibition skate; the injury left him on crutches for two months, forcing him to miss the World Championships.

By May, however, Chen was rehabilitating, and in November, he won a silver medal at the NHK Trophy competition in Sapporo, Japan, becoming the youngest medallist ever in a Gran Prix event. Chen set a similar mark a month later at the Gran Prix Finals in Marseilles, France, winning a silver medal; he was the second-youngest male medallist ever at that prestigious event.

Coming into the 2017 U.S. Championships, Chen was one of the favorites, especially after 2016 champion Adam Rippon broke his foot two weeks before the event. Chen did not disappoint. He set a new standard in menís skating by becoming the first skater to land five quadruple jumps in competition, setting new scoring records in the short program, free skate, and total score.

Chen didnít just set those records; he destroyed them, beating the short program record by almost seven points, the free skate record by nearly 25 points, and the highest total score by more than 43 points. He defeated the second-place finisher by more than 55 points ó and that silver medallist is Vincent Zhou, a Chinese American.

With the Winter Olympics just a year away, Chen has become one to watch.

"The U.S. is back on the map at the world stage," he said after his record-shattering performance. When asked about the possibility of winning Olympic gold, he said modestly, "Thereís so much room that I have to improve to make myself at that level, but I think itís definitely possible." After coming back from such a difficult beginning to the 2016 season, Chen has shown that he has the work ethic to get there.

While Nathan Chenís spectacular performance was not unexpected, Karen Chen wasnít really on anyoneís radar coming into Kansas City for the U.S. Championships. Most skating fans had their eyes on Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold, winners of the last five U.S. Championships, Gold being the defending champion.

In 2015, Taiwanese American Karen Chen made a splash by placing third at the U.S. Championships, but she seemed like a flash in the pan after fizzling the following season. She fought through injuries and problems with her skating boots, trying 14 different pairs throughout the season, and she finished a lowly eighth place at last yearís nationals.

But she put all that struggle behind her at this yearís nationals, starting with a record-setting performance of her own in the short program. Her score of 72.82 was the highest ever for a female skater at the U.S. Championships. But Mirai Nagasu, the Japanese-American skater who won the 2008 nationals, was less than a point behind her, and Wagner trailed by less than two points.

This meant Chen would have to follow her amazing short program with a fantastic long program to ensure victory. Chen did just that, nailing six different triple jumps in an emotional free skate that earned her a 141.40.

"There was definitely a lot of pressure, knowing that I skated the short of my dreams," she said. "I wanted to follow it up with a close-to-perfect long." Nagasu and Gold performed poorly in their free skates, but Wagner put on a great show that wasnít quite great enough: Chen barely edged her out for the victory.

Among others, Chen could thank Olympic gold medallist Kristi Yamaguchi for her support. Yamaguchi first noticed Chen when the 11-year-old was nailing triple jumps at a local rink in their hometown, and she has mentored the younger skater ever since. Yamaguchi encouraged Chen to "just have fun" at the 2012 nationals, when Chen set a novice-level scoring record en route to a gold medal. Later, she sent Chen a congratulatory text shortly after her awesome long-form performance at the 2015 nationals.

Yamaguchi has established a winning tradition that both Chens hope to follow at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Nathanís courageous strength and Karenís graceful perfection make them formidable opponents in both the Olympics and the many competitions held before then. We will all be watching them with interest to see if they can build on these incredible performances and emulate Yamaguchiís success.

Read the current issue of The Asian Reporter in its entirety!
Go to <www.asianreporter.com/completepaper.htm>!