Chen snags medal she can't refuse: novice gold

Skating to 'Godfather,' 12-year-old puts away field in free skate

Karen Chen dominated the novice ladies competition, topping the podium by 15 points.
Karen Chen dominated the novice ladies competition, topping the podium by 15 points. (Tom Briglia)


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By Renee Felton, special to
(01/23/2012) - Despite turning out two less-than-perfect programs, 12-year-old Karen Chen easily skated away with the novice ladies gold medal at the 2012 U.S. Championships.

"I'm shocked that I won because my programs weren't clean," Chen said. "But I'm also really excited and happy that I won."

A fall in her The Godfather free skate Monday afternoon didn't matter much as her total score of 140.17 points was over 14 more than silver medalist Amber Glenn's 125.88.

The highly technical program featured three jumping passes; each earned over eight points as the free skate earned 93.63 points. Her elements included a double Axel-triple toe combination that netted 8.74 points and a triple Salchow-double toe-double loop worth 8.23 points. She also performed a Level 4 layback spin and a total of five triple jumps.

Chen's program components were the only in the competition to break 40 points.

Chen and her coaches, Sherri Krahne-Thomas and Gilley Nicholson, credited the gold to her overall technique and style.

"Even though I fell in both programs, I think I won because I have good footwork, spins and very difficult elements," she explained.

Nicholson echoed the sentiment.

"Karen will rise to any challenge. She is very ambitious and goes for everything. I'm extremely happy for her."

Dallas area native Glenn had a cheering section awaiting her as she made her way from the kiss and cry back to the locker rooms. Training mate Ashley Cain, who competes in senior pairs with Joshua Reagan and also in junior ladies, and her coaches cheered 12-year-old Glenn as she made her way.

"I am inspired by my family and friends and the people at my rink to get better," Glenn said. "They have really helped me this year."

Glenn made a big leap from a year ago, when she placed 10th as an intermediate at the 2011 U.S. Junior Championships.

"After last year, I was determined," she said. "I said, 'I'm going to nationals next year and leaving an impression.' I think I did."

Set to the Black Swan soundtrack, Glenn's free skate included a triple toe-double combination and a double Axel-double toe. She totaled 83.43 points for the afternoon.

The bronze medal belongs to Amanda Gelb, who finished with a total score of 122.34 points. Sitting in second place after the short program, Gelb skated her free to Romeo and Juliet. The program featured two triple Salchows, one in combination, and a pair of Level 4 spins.

Gelb competed at the novice level last year but didn't make the U.S. Championships after placing 10th at the Pacific Coast Sectional.

"I am more prepared and confident this year," she said. "I've been improving my triples and hope to add more before next year. I have had fun here and accomplished my goals, so now it's time to keep learning."