LAUSANNE, Switzerland - For Youth Olympian Jeffrey Chen, figure skating is a family affair.
His older sister, Karen, is an accomplished figure skater with success on the national and international stages. She was crowned senior national champion in 2017 and competed in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, finishing 11th.
Growing up with figure skating in his family, Chen took to the ice just like his sister. But his career in skating almost ended as quickly as it started.
“I didn’t actually like skating at the beginning when I started off,” Chen said. “But then Karen was my inspiration for skating. Watching her compete and improve was really motivating.”
Drawing on inspiration from his sister, Chen has also worked his way onto the national and international scenes. But with his emergence into the figure skating world, coupled with his accomplished older sister, Chen started his career in his sister’s footsteps.
“I think more and more I’m known as Jeffrey,” Chen said. “Starting out it was always, ‘That’s Karen Chen’s bother over there,’ but I think getting out, competing and building on more experience has helped everything.”
Another thing that Chen believes has helped is creating his own identity on, and off, the ice. In addition to his passion for figure skating, Chen spends much of his time practicing photography as a way to strengthen and build on the artistic side of himself.
Another passion of Chen’s is hip-hop and ballet dancing, which is what he and ice dance partner Katarina Wolfkostin do off the ice. Not only do ballet and hip-hop dancing serve as a form of training and a way to learn different dance styles, but they also help strengthen the communication between the duo.
“We work off of each other a lot,” Chen said. “Both people are going to have different opinions, so communication is super important between us. I feel we communicate super well.”
Their communication has worked so well that they earned their chance to represent Team USA at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, in only their first season competing as a team.
Chen and Wolfkostin kicked off competition on Saturday with the rhythm dance and currently sit in fifth place with 57.02 points. They return to the ice on Monday for the free dance.
With less than one year competing together, it’s safe to say the pair is off to a strong and promising start.
“Since it’s our first season, it’s all about getting experience, competing at different places and going to new events,” Wolfkostin said. “Hopefully we’re developing skills over time and getting better at what we do.”