There's another Chen preparing to take the ice at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Karen Chen is 18-years-old and a first-time Olympian — just like American men's champ Nathan Chen. Beyond that, the two have no relation.
Chen, a Fremont native who trains in Riverside, has earned the nickname the "Quiet Assassin." In her personal life, she's soft-spoken and shy but on the ice she transforms into a powerhouse.
Chen won gold at the U.S. National Championship in San Jose in 2017, but it didn't come easy.
She was battling a virus the day before the competition, and skating was “pretty brutal,” she told KQED.
“I just stayed really focused,” Chen said. “I just thought that this is the moment that means the most to me. I’m not gonna let this little virus win. I have to fight. I have to win. I’m going to do this.”
In these Winter Games, some of Chen's stiffest competition will likely come from her teammate Mirai Nagasu, who last week became the first American woman to land a triple axel in Olympic competition.
“I truly look up to Mirai Nagasu,” Chen told KQED. “I remember when she made the team in 2010. And I was watching TV, and I was her biggest fan. I cheered her on, and I told all my friends that she was gonna get a medal at the Olympics. I believed in her so much. And it’s just so amazing that I’ve come this far and I’m going to the Olympics with her.”
Hopefully, Karen Chen will do better than Nathan Chen. He had a disastrous short program, stumbling on all of his required jumps and finishing 17th. With nothing to lose, he skated a fiery long program, landing a historic six quads and bringing him up to fifth place.
Some observers think Karen Chen could be a dominant force in women's figure skating in four years, at the 2022 Olympics.
Coverage of the ladies' short program, in which Chen is competing, kicks off at 5 p.m. PST on Tuesday.
Jeremy Siegel at KQED contributed reporting to this story.