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Chen wins short program, looks to stay perfect

Short-progream leader hails from nearby Fremont

Karen Chen won the novice ladies short program by almost three points.
Karen Chen won the novice ladies short program by almost three points. (Tom Briglia)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(01/22/2012) - Dating back the 2011 Central Pacific Regional Championships, Karen Chen has four straight gold medals to her credit, including the 2011 U.S. intermediate title. A 12-year-old who lives near San Jose and represents the Peninsula Skating Club, Chen is halfway to No. 5 after winning the novice ladies short program Sunday at the 2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships with a score of 46.54 points.

"I'm shocked to be in first place," she said. "I wasn't expecting to be in that spot. Even though my program wasn't perfect, it was the best I had in me today."

Chen overcame an early fall on her triple flip. From there, "The Chairman's Waltz" program featured a triple Lutz-double toe that earned 7.70 points. She added four more points on a double Axel and closed the show with a Level 4 layback spin.

When asked about her goals for Monday's free skate, Chen noted she wants to hit her jumps.

"The first four jumps are tough," Chen said. "I'm going to focus. I know I can skate better."

Amanda Gelb (Los Angeles FSC) sits in second place going into the free skate with a total of 43.67 points. She began her Amelie program with a triple Salchow-double toe combination that she picked out as her favorite element of the program.

"I finally learned how to do my triple Sal under pressure," she explained. "I thought my spins and jumps were good today, but the Salchow was the best."

In fact, the element garnered 6.30 points, including a grade of execution (GOE) mark of 0.80. She also performed two Level 4 spins.

The final skater of the afternoon, Amber Glenn (Dallas FSC), recorded 42.45 points and sits in third place. Skating to "El Tango de Roxanne" from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, she performed a triple Lutz-double loop combination and a triple flip.

"I was really nervous for the short program," she noted. "It's fun and dramatic -- I love getting into the character."

Now focus turns to a newly renovated Black Swan free skate.

"We altered the first half of the music and I really like it," Glenn explained. "I'm skating to a remix of the original. It's going to be great."