Fremont’s Karen Chen is a rising star on the world stage.
She won the U.S. Figure Skating Championship title in January and three months later her strong performance at the World Figure Skating Championships helped secure her country three spots at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
She’ll be competing in San Jose at the end of the year for the 2018 national championship, which serves as the defacto trials for the Olympics.
But for all the acclaim and whirlwind lifestyle of training, travel and competitions, the 17-year-old considers herself just a normal girl from Fremont .
“I still don’t look at myself as a celebrity or anything like that, or like this public figure,” Chen told The Argus this month. “I still feel like I haven’t changed and I’m still me; I’m still this shy girl.”
Chen’s first time skating was at age 4 when her parents took her to Sharks Ice, the former Iceoplex in Fremont’s Warm Springs district. The ice rink is one place where Chen says she has never been shy.
After attending Chadbourne Elementary School through sixth grade, Chen began a homeschooling program to accommodate her intensive skating schedule. In 2013, she started training under coach Tammy Gambill in Riverside. Her mother, Hsiu-Hui Tseng, moved there with her and her younger brother, Jeffrey, who is also a skater. Her father, Chih-Hsiu Chen, remained in the East Bay to work and now lives in Hayward.
About every two weeks, Chen travels between Southern and Northern California to visit with family; she still sees doctors and physical therapists here occasionally.
She takes online classes, but her skating career has forced her to miss some of the quintessential teenager experiences of attending junior high and high school. And while many local kids were getting dressed to the nines and taking selfies at their proms and formals earlier this month, Chen was busy touring the country with the Stars on Ice show.
“I guess I would love to experience just…