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Page 8 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
February 6, 2017
Asians in American sports w Asian Americans in world sports
Two Chens dazzle at U.S.
Figure Skating Championships
SENSATIONAL SKATERS. At the U.S. Figure
Skating Championships in January, the phenomenal
Nathan Chen (top photo) set new world records while
dominating the men’s division, while the lesser-known
Karen Chen (bottom photo) won the women’s side
with an incredible performance of her own. Though
the two are not related, both are united in their
Asian-American heritage — and their fluidity and
strength on the ice. (AP Photos/Charlie Riedel)
By Mike Street
Special to The Asian Reporter
he future of American figure
skating appears to be named
“Chen.” At the U.S. Figure Skating
Championships in January, the phenome-
nal Nathan Chen set new world records
while dominating the men’s division, while
the lesser-known Karen Chen won the
women’s side with an incredible
performance of her own. Though the two
are not related, both are united in their
Asian-American heritage — and their
fluidity and strength on the ice.
Coming into Kansas City for the
championships, Nathan Chen was already
well known at the lower levels of U.S.
skating. The son of Chinese parents, he
had already won the U.S. Championships
four times, twice at the novice level and
twice at the junior level. But the 2016
season was his first at the senior level, and
it started out with a huge leap forward —
followed by a shattering step back.
At the 2016 U.S. Championships a year
ago, he became the first man to land two
quadruple jumps in a short program and
four in a free skate, and won a bronze
medal. But just hours later, he suffered a
hip avulsion during an exhibition skate;
the injury left him on crutches for two
months, forcing him to miss the World
By May, however, Chen was rehabili-
tating, and in November, he won a silver
medal at the NHK Trophy competition in
Sapporo, Japan, becoming the youngest
medallist ever in a Gran Prix event. Chen
set a similar mark a month later at the
Gran Prix Finals in Marseilles, France,
winning a silver medal; he was the
second-youngest male medallist ever at
that prestigious event.
Championships, Chen was one of the
favorites, especially after 2016 champion
Adam Rippon broke his foot two weeks
before the event. Chen did not disappoint.
He set a new standard in men’s skating by
becoming the first skater to land five
quadruple jumps in competition, setting
new scoring records in the short program,
free skate, and total score.
Chen didn’t just set those records; he
destroyed them, beating the short
program record by almost seven points,
the free skate record by nearly 25 points,
and the highest total score by more than 43
points. He defeated the second-place
finisher by more than 55 points — and that
silver medallist is Vincent Zhou, a Chinese
With the Winter Olympics just a year
away, Chen has become one to watch.
“The U.S. is back on the map at the world
stage,” he said after his record-shattering
performance. When asked about the
possibility of winning Olympic gold, he
said modestly, “There’s so much room that
I have to improve to make myself at that
level, but I think it’s definitely possible.”
After coming back from such a difficult
beginning to the 2016 season, Chen has
shown that he has the work ethic to get
While Nathan Chen’s spectacular per-
formance was not unexpected, Karen Chen
wasn’t really on anyone’s radar coming
into Kansas City for the U.S. Champion-
ships. Most skating fans had their eyes on
Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold, winners of
the last five U.S. Championships, Gold
being the defending champion.
In 2015, Taiwanese American Karen
Chen made a splash by placing third at the
U.S. Championships, but she seemed like
a flash in the pan after fizzling the
following season. She fought through
injuries and problems with her skating
boots, trying 14 different pairs throughout
the season, and she finished a lowly eighth
place at last year’s nationals.
But she put all that struggle behind her
at this year’s nationals, starting with a
record-setting performance of her own in
the short program. Her score of 72.82 was
the highest ever for a female skater at the
U.S. Championships. But Mirai Nagasu,
the Japanese-American skater who won
the 2008 nationals, was less than a point
behind her, and Wagner trailed by less
than two points.
This meant Chen would have to follow
her amazing short program with a
fantastic long program to ensure victory.
Chen did just that, nailing six different
triple jumps in an emotional free skate
that earned her a 141.40.
“There was definitely a lot of pressure,
knowing that I skated the short of my
dreams,” she said. “I wanted to follow it up
with a close-to-perfect long.” Nagasu and
Gold performed poorly in their free skates,
but Wagner put on a great show that
wasn’t quite great enough: Chen barely
edged her out for the victory.
Among others, Chen could thank
Olympic gold medallist Kristi Yamaguchi
for her support. Yamaguchi first noticed
Chen when the 11-year-old was nailing
triple jumps at a local rink in their home-
town, and she has mentored the younger
skater ever since. Yamaguchi encouraged
Chen to “just have fun” at the 2012
nationals, when Chen set a novice-level
scoring record en route to a gold medal.
Later, she sent Chen a congratulatory text
shortly after her awesome long-form
performance at the 2015 nationals.
Yamaguchi has established a winning
tradition that both Chens hope to follow at
the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
Nathan’s courageous strength and Karen’s
graceful perfection make them formidable
opponents in both the Olympics and the
many competitions held before then. We
will all be watching them with interest to
see if they can build on these incredible
performances and emulate Yamaguchi’s
2020 Olympic golf course open to reviewing membership policy
By Mari Yamaguchi
The Associated Press
OKYO — The club that will host
the 2020 Olympic golf tournament
is open to changing its policy to
include women as full members, if asked.
The Kasumigaseki Country Club came
under scrutiny recently when the Interna-
tional Olympic Committee (IOC) inquired
about the club’s membership practice. The
issue surfaced in mid-January when To-
kyo governor Yuriko Koike urged Kasumi-
gaseki to admit women as full members.
Tokyo Olympic organizers also said they
would review the practice.
Kasumigaseki general manager Hiroshi
Imaizumi told The Associated Press that
the club is currently preparing to provide
an explanation to the IOC and Interna-
tional Golf Federation that its member-
ship policy excludes women from fully-
fledged membership but not from playing
or other types of membership. He said the
club has no immediate plan to make
changes to the practice because the IOC
has not asked it to do so.
If requested, the club said it is open to
reviewing its policy for a change and would
seek consensus from its more than 1,000
full members, though it may take some
time, Imaizumi said.
Founded in 1929 as a private club
funded by about 300 wealthy men,
Kasumigaseki is one of the oldest and most
prestigious clubs in the country and has
hosted more top-level tournaments than
any other Japanese course.
Within a few years of the opening, the
club started accepting female players and
has since also added junior members, a
move seen as female friendly in the
relatively conservative sport of golf.
The Japan Golf Association said there
are a number of Japanese clubs that still
bar women from playing.
The club has not received any
complaints from its members about the
policy, but if the membership practice is
seen as problematic, changing the rule is a
possibility in the future, Imaizumi said.
“We have always believed our policy has
been very open, so we were caught by
surprise,” Imaizumi said, referring to the
recent media attention over the club’s
membership policy. “We welcome all
female players and we have no intention of
creating a gender barrier.”
To join Kasumigaseki, an applicant
needs to obtain a reference from a current
member and pay 8 million yen ($70,800) to
become a regular member first, then pay
an additional 4 million yen ($35,400) to be
a full member.
Only full members can play any day of
“Kasumi is an exclusive club that no
ordinary people can join and play. It’s a
club where women are deprived of full
membership, which means they cannot
join any decision-making process at the
club or even cannot play golf on Sunday,”
said Eiko Oya, a journalist and critic who
heads the Japan Golf Council, a nonprofit
citizens group pushing for a change of
venue to Tokyo’s public golf course.
The group said it sent a statement to
IOC president Thomas Bach in December
to call his attention to the issue, saying the
club’s membership policy is “contrary to
the spirit of the Olympic Games.”