Skater Chen, 6 from women’s hockey headed to Beijing
By Tom Fleischman
Fresh off her silver-medal performance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Karen Chen ’23, a human development major in the College of Human Ecology, will represent the United States at the Winter Olympics next month in Beijing.
Chen will be joined from Cornell by four former Big Red women’s hockey players – forwards Brianne Jenner ’15, Rebecca Johnston ’12 and Jillian Saulnier ’15, and defenseman Micah Zandee-Hart ’20 – who’ll represent their native Canada. Additionally, Doug Derraugh ’91, the Everett Family Head Coach of Women’s Hockey, will serve as an assistant coach for Team Canada.
One more Cornellian, Lenka Serdar ’19, a former Big Red teammate of Zandee-Hart’s, will compete for the Czech Republic, which announced its 23-player roster on Jan. 13. Serdar was on the Czech squad that defeated Poland, 5-1, on Nov. 14 to earn a berth in the Olympics.
Playing for Poland was another of Serdar’s ex-Cornell teammates, defenseman and alternate captain Sarah Knee ’18.
Chen, 22, who plans to return to her studies this fall following a two-year leave to focus on skating, won the 2017 U.S. championship, placed fourth in the 2017 World Championships and finished 11th at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
She has overcome multiple injuries, including a fractured ankle suffered during practice in 2013, and a stress fracture in 2018 that caused her to miss the entire 2018-19 season. She rebounded in 2020 with a fourth-place finish at nationals, before this year’s second-place showing.
Johnston, a three-time All-American who still holds the Cornell NCAA-era (since 2000) record with 97 career goals, is making her fourth appearance in the Olympics, having won gold medals in 2010 and ’14.
Jenner, like Johnston a four-time All-ECAC Hockey first-team selection, was also on the 2014 Canadian Olympic team during a leave from her collegiate career with Cornell. Jenner holds Big Red career records for points, assists and game-winning goals.
Saulnier, a first-team All-American as a junior at Cornell, is making her second Olympic appearance, having won silver four years ago alongside Johnston and Jenner.
Zandee-Hart, a three-time All-ECAC Hockey selection, will make her Olympic debut, after being one of the final players cut from the Olympic squad four years ago.
Derraugh has been part of Team Canada since 2012, and was an assistant coach four years ago, as well. He played four years for the Big Red, then played professionally in Europe for 13 years before returning to his alma mater in 2005 to coach the women’s team.
Team Canada – which has won four Olympic gold medals and 11 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships since 1990 – has been placed in Group A of the women’s tournament at the Beijing Winter Games, opening play Feb. 3 against Switzerland. The playoff round starts Feb. 11, building up to the gold medal game Feb. 17.
Serdar was an All-Ivy Honorable Mention in 2018, and finished her senior season ranked third on the team in goals (12), including a team-high two shorthanded tallies.
Brandon Thomas from the Office of Athletic Communications contributed to this report.