Karen Chen

Karen Chen balanced schoolwork and competing at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, placing fourth overall. 

This story originally ran in the Cornell Daily Sun. 

Gliding across the ice in a purple dress adorned with sparkling crystals and jewels, 2017 U.S. Figure Skating champion Karen Chen ’23 entered the ice rink in Greensboro, North Carolina, placing fourth overall at the 2020 U.S Figure Skating Championship on Friday.

After enduring a foot injury last season, Chen placed first with 70.41 points in the short program. Skating to the words of Lauren Daigle’s song “You Say,” the graceful skater did a triple spin into the air, showing her skating prowess to the audience.

Chen placed fourth overall with 193.65 points, coming in after Alysa Liu, Mariah Bell and Bradie Tennell. Out of the three other victors, Tenell is the only other college student.

In an interview with NBC Sports, Chen cited her academics as reason why she did not rank higher at the championship.

“Although I feel like I could’ve done better, I know that school was definitely a factor in my training,” Chen said.

A pre-med biology and society major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Chen has managed to do coursework amid rigorously training on the ice for national competitions.

“In my head it’s doable,” Chen said in a 2019 interview with The Sun. “I’m gonna make this work. I’m not willing to give up skating and it’s still a priority for me. I dedicated so much of my life to it.”

Now, as a full time student and competitive national athlete, it has proven to be a challenge with traveling, attending class and training.

As a 2018 Pyeongchang olympian, 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Champion and published author, Chen has juggled multiple roles in her life, yet has appeared to tackle all of them head-on — including just recently completing her first semester at Cornell.

While the future is uncertain, Tammy Gambill, Chen’s coach, said in an NBC interview that she hopes Chen will go to the 2020 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in South Korea in February.

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