For the first time since 2011, U.S. Figure Skating crowned a ladies champion other than Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold.
Teenager Karen Chen dissolved the five-year consistency atop the ladies competition, capturing the national title Saturday at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City.
Chen, 17, followed her record-showing in the short program Thursday with the top free-skate score Saturday, compiling an overall total of 214.22.
“I am just in utter shock,” she said.
Wagner took silver with 211.78 points. Gold, the defending national champion, fell to sixth at 179.62.
Gold and Wagner had combined to win the previous five national titles in the ladies event, the marquee program of the first U.S. Figure Skating Championships held in Kansas City since 1985.
“Knowing that I had skated the short (program) of my dreams, I wanted to follow it up with a close to perfect long (program),” Chen said. “I put some pressure on myself knowing that winning this thing was a huge possibility. I just wanted to chase after that thought.”
The winning skate took place in front of an oft-complimented crowd inside the Sprint Center, which also observed senior champions crowned in the pairs and ice dance events Saturday. The upper bowl of the arena was curtained off, but the lower bowl was nearly full.
“The crowd has been wonderful,” said Madison Chock, the silver medalist for the ice dance.
The audience was most invested in the ladies long program Saturday evening, which saw a final podium of Chen, Wagner and Mariah Bell.