(3/31/2017)Karen Chen impressed the Finnish crowd with a 129.31-point free skate, to give her 199.29 overall points and a fourth place finish at the 2017 ISU World Figure Skating Championships on Friday in Helsinki, Finland.

With her fourth-place finish, Chen, along with Ashley Wagner, ensure that the United States will have three ladies spots at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

Making her Worlds debut, Chen was near-perfect until the final two jumps of her program. She received positive grades of execution on all three of her combinations: triple lutz-triple toe, double axel-loop-triple salchow, and triple salchow-double toe. She hit two other clean triple jumps, in addition to three Level 4 spins.

“I accomplished what I came here to do,” Chen said. “I feel very happy knowing that I skated my best. Obviously, there were a few mistakes, but I’m very happy with what I accomplished here.”

Wagner, the 2016 World silver medalist, faltered in her free skate, but was still able to grab a Top-10 finish with 193.54 points through two programs and finish seventh.

“I came to this competition very prepared,” Wagner said. “In my practices, I have been the strongest that I’ve ever skated. So, today was one of those days where my head got in the way. I can be a very mental skater and I let myself be weak today and that’s very frustrating. This is the season to experience that, though. I will always be a World silver medalist and I need to skate like a World silver medalist. Today, I just didn’t do that.”
American Mariah Bell finished 12th in her Worlds debut, earning 187.23 total points.

“I had so much fun,” Bell said. “Just to finish my season and put out a program that I’m really proud of at Worlds under a little bit of pressure is something that I’m really proud of. It’s been an awesome, awesome season and I’m excited to get back home and get back to work.”

In the ice dance competition, the United States is poised for a spot on the podium after claiming third through fifth positions after the short dance.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue sit third after tallying 76.53 points in their short dance.

“We just focused on the precision and really owning this performance,” Donohue said. “I think that’s what was missing for us…we were trying to perform it through something that we weren’t taking ownership of and I think we really did that tonight.”

Madison Chock and Evan Bates, the 2016 World bronze medalists, are fourth, earning 76.25 points on Friday.

“It’s very tight and tomorrow will definitely be a fight for everyone,” Chock said. “We’re ready to fight. We’ve trained really hard and we are ready.”

Maia and Alex Shibutani, the 2016 World silver medalists and 2017 U.S. champions, are fifth. The duo earned 74.88 points.

“We were very happy with how we skated today,” Maia Shibutani said. “That’s exactly what we’ve been training and the program has grown so much. The crowd was fantastic tonight.”

The point differential towards the top of the field is extremely tight with only 2.05 points separating second and sixth place.

Both the men’s and ice dance competitions will conclude on Saturday. Nathan Chen and Jason Brown sit sixth and eighth, respectively, heading into the men’s free skate.

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