In 2012, the U.S. ladies champion has either been Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold. For the first time in five years, there’s a new lady on top of the podium. Karen Chen took home her first U.S. senior title at the U.S. Championships in Kansas City Saturday. The 17-year-old, who took the lead after the short program and never looked back, delivered a strong free skate with six triple jumps. She opened the program with a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination. She beat Wagner by less than a point to win the title with a total score of 214.22.

“I’m just in complete shock. All of this just came together for me,” Chen said after winning the gold.

 Wagner, who was in third after the short program, skated following Chen. The 2016 World silver medalist landed seven triple jumps in the free skate, including two triple-triple combinations. However, the judges ruled the second jump in her triple flip-triple toe loop combination under rotated.  Wagner settled for second in the free skate with 140.84 points, and won silver with 211.78 points.
 
“Today was a huge accomplishment for me. First of all, this was my first nationals silver medal. That’s a big deal for how many nationals I’ve been to. Beyond that, today was really solid. That was what I was going for. From the start of this event I said I was here to get on that world team and I think that I delivered the two solid performances I wanted to here. I left some points out there on the table. I’m
totally okay with that because I have something to build on top of and I know exactly where I am now and I’m not planning on peaking here and I’m looking forward to moving on to Worlds,” said Wagner during the press conference following the ladies event.

Wagner’s training mate and Skate America silver medalist, Mariah Bell moved up from sixth place in the short program to claim the bronze medal. She finished the free skate with a score of 134.59 and a total score of 197.92 points.

“I was very very pleased with my performance today. My goal coming in to Nationals was just to continue building on my personal best that I’ve grown with, with the season. I’m really proud because I was pretty nervous going into long but to be able to do that even with the pressure that I had on myself, I feel really really pleased, and am very excited for whatever’s next,” Bell said.

Mirai Nagasu, who was in third place after the short program, dropped to fourth place to win the pewter medal. Nagasu fell on her triple lutz  and the judges called several of her other jumps under-rotated. She placed fourth in the free and fourth overall with 194.90 points. Caroline Zhang, who missed last season after undergoing hip surgery in 2015, had a strong performance in her return to the U.S. Championships to finish in fifth place.

Two-time U.S. Champion Gracie Gold, who has struggled since her disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2016 World Championships, finished in sixth place.

U.S. Figure Skating announced that Chen, Wagner and Bell will representing the U.S. at the World Figure Skating Championships in Helinski, March 29-April 2. The three will also representing the U.S. at the Four Continents Championships in Korea, February 15-19.