KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Karen Chen probably didn’t see Ashley Wagner giving her a curt nod from the ice, not with her face buried in her hands after another memorable performance at the U.S. figure skating championships.
The three-time champion was focused on warming up for her own performance in the free skate, yet Wagner couldn’t help but acknowledge near-perfection — and the standard she now faced.
Wagner proceeded to lay down her own dramatic program, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Fremont’s 17-year-old Chen. Her elegant short program performed to “On Golden Pond” was followed by a darker, more emotional free skate set to “Jealousy Tango” that made her a surprising first-time national champion.
“I skated such a great short and I was definitely thrilled with it,” Chen said, “so I definitely had some pressure going into the long, thinking I really had a chance at this.”
The bronze medalist two years ago, Chen’s free skate score of 141.40 gave her a 214.22 total, which stood up when Wagner under-rotated a combination and had a final combination spin reduced to a Level 2 in her own program. That left the world silver medalist with a score of 140.84 and a 211.78 composite….[read more]