Karen Chen Explains The Meaning Behind Her Figure Skating Costume

Although the Summer Olympics wrapped less than six months prior, the Winter Olympics kicked off Friday, February 4th (via The Cut). Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a few nations' decisions to participate in "diplomatic boycotts" of the games, this year's event faces added pressure. The United States, Australia, Canada, and Britain decided not to send any government officials to Beijing in protest of the country's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses."


Despite the controversy surrounding the Winter Olympics, fans of the international series are still excited to see the best hockey players, skiers, snowboarders, and more athletes compete for the gold. One of the most highly anticipated events remains Women's Figure Skating. This year the U.S. team features the internationally renowned Mariah Bell, Karen Chen, and Alysa Liu, with alternates Lindsay Thorngren, Amber Glenn, and Gabriella Izzy (via NBC).

Karen Chen helps Team USA secure the silver

22-year-old American figure skater Karen Chen had a bit of a shaky start to the 2022 Beijing Olympics. In her team event short program performance of "Requiem for a Dream," she fell on her final jump — a triple loop — and ended up in fifth place (via People). But she had a chance to help boost the United States standings with the long program the next day. To give the United States a chance to clinch a silver medal, Chen needed to skate well.


Before heading onto the ice for her routine to the song "Butterfly Lovers' Violin Concerto," Chen told The Washington Post that she thought to herself, "I'm going to be a pretty butterfly. I'm going to embrace this moment, and skate my little heart out."

And so she did. While it wasn't a flawless performance, it was enough to score 131.52 points and nab a fourth-place finish. She explained, "I definitely felt a little more pressure because I felt like I needed to redeem myself. But I think at the end of the day just that experience of knowing what to expect really helped me find my comfort zone." Chen's routine secured the United States team a silver medal and another four years of glory.

In the last two Olympic Games, Sochi in 2014 and PyeongChang in 2018, the US team took home the bronze, which makes 2022's silver medal even more meaningful (via Today). Aside from dazzling spectators with her double axels and triple loops, Chen's performance as a butterfly was enhanced by her sparkly purple costume with a special meaning behind it.


Karen Chen's mother made her costume with special details

In a post on Team USA's Instagram, Karen Chen revealed that her purple skate dress, featuring bell sleeves, a deep-V illusion neckline, and loads of rhinestones was actually made by her mother. Chen explained, "She does all the hard work and she puts = blood, sweat, and tears into it." The California native shared that she had a small part in making the costume as well. Chen continued, "She probably does 90 percent of the work and I do like 10 percent, and by 10 percent I just tell her like, 'Oh that looks good.'"


The 22-year-old also pointed out her favorite thing her mom did with the costume, one of the details that ties her costume to her routine. The Olympian explained, "I think my favorite part is this butterfly down here, she like strategically picked the stones and arranged them in a way so it looks like a butterfly because [for] my free program I'm skating to a 'Butterfly Lovers' Concerto' and so I just want to be a pretty butterfly on the ice."

Karen Chen's mentor Kristi Yamaguchi has helped her achieve glory

Chen made her Olympic debut in 2018. As a two-time competitor, the silver medalist told People that "the part that I enjoy the most is actually skating to music. I just love working on choreography and different nuances and whatnot and just exploring my artistry." While she loves working on new parts of her routines, Chen continuously battles competition nerves, She explained, "There's a lot of pressure and stress that come with it, especially when I feel like my identity is based off of my performance and my placement." Thankfully the skaters has a fellow Olympian she can turn to for guidance. Figure skating legend Kristi Yamaguchi has served as a mentor for Chen for many years. The latter shared, "She always texts me before a competition. So I'm truly, truly so thankful that we've had this bond ever since I was little."


Chen will be competing as an individual in the women's singles short and long programs next week (per NBC Chicago).