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Chen Lu (born 24 November 1976) is a Chinese figure skater. She is the 1994
Figure skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics
Referee:* Britta LindgrenAssistant Referee:* Gerhardt BubníkJudges: Wendy Utley Jan Olesinski Jarmila Portová Alfred Korytek Yang Jiasheng Margaret Ann Wier Noriko Shirota Audrey Williams Jan Hoffmann Monique Petis -Pairs:...

 and 1998 Olympic bronze medalist
Figure skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics
-Medal table:-Medalists:-Men:The favourites and top two after the short program were Ilia Kulik and Elvis Stojko, who would skate first and last, respectively. Medal contenders Alexei Yagudin, Todd Eldredge and Philippe Candeloro went in between...

 and the 1995 World Champion
World Figure Skating Championships
The World Figure Skating Championships is an annual figure skating competition sanctioned by the International Skating Union in which elite figure skaters compete for the title of World Champion...

. Chen won the first ever Olympic medal in figure skating for China.

Amateur career


Chen was born in Changchun
Changchun
Changchun is the capital and largest city of Jilin province, located in the northeast of the People's Republic of China, in the center of the Songliao Plain. It is administered as a sub-provincial city with a population of 7,677,089 at the 2010 census under its jurisdiction, including counties and...

, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 in 1976 as the daughter of an ice hockey
Ice hockey
Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

 coach and a table tennis
Table tennis
Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net...

 player. She was one of the most decorated figure skaters of the 1990s winning two Olympic medals, four World medals
World Figure Skating Championships
The World Figure Skating Championships is an annual figure skating competition sanctioned by the International Skating Union in which elite figure skaters compete for the title of World Champion...

, and nine national titles. Her success brought attention to Chinese figure skating and spurred more Chinese success.

Early success


As a young skater in the early 90's, Chen demonstrated both athletic and artistic potential. In fact, she often out-jumped many of her contemporaries and the World's top figure skaters, including Kristi Yamaguchi
Kristi Yamaguchi
Kristine Tsuya "Kristi" Yamaguchi-Hedican is an American figure skater. She is the 1992 Olympic Champion in ladies' singles. Yamaguchi also won two World Figure Skating Championships in 1991 and 1992 and a U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1992. She won one junior world title in 1988 and two...

, Midori Ito
Midori Ito
is a former Japanese figure skater. She is the 1989 World Champion and the 1992 Olympic silver medalist. She is the first woman to land a triple/triple jump combination and a triple axel in competition. She is also the first woman to land seven triple jumps in a free program, which she did at the...

, Tonya Harding
Tonya Harding
Tonya Maxine Harding is an American figure skating champion. In 1991 she won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and placed second in the World Championships. She was the second woman, and the first American woman, to complete a triple axel jump in competition...

, Surya Bonaly
Surya Bonaly
Surya Bonaly is a French professional figure skater. She is a three-time World Championship silver medalist, a five-time European Champion, the 1991 World Junior Champion and a nine-time French National Champion.-Career:...

, and Nancy Kerrigan
Nancy Kerrigan
Nancy Ann Kerrigan is a two-time American Olympic figure skating medalist and 1993 U.S. champion.-Early life and skating career:...

. For example, she landed seven triple jumps, including a triple toeloop
Toe loop jump
The toe loop is one of the simplest jumps in figure skating. It is usually the second jump learned after the salchow. It is a toe pick-assisted jump that takes off and lands on the same backward outside edge. - Toe loop technique :...

/triple toeloop combination at the 1991 World Championships held in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, Germany. During the free skating portion of the event, she landed more triple jumps than the top 5 finishers. This generated excitement about her prospects at a time when triple jumps
Figure skating jump
Figure skating jumps are a major element of competitive figure skating. Different jumps are identified by the take-off edge and the number of revolutions completed. There are six kinds of jumps currently counted as jump elements in ISU regulations.-Technique:...

 were beginning to dominate women's figure skating, while Chen's artistic talents were praised by such American commentators as Scott Hamilton
Scott Hamilton (figure skater)
Scott Scovell Hamilton is an American figure skater and Olympic gold medalist. He won four consecutive U.S. championships , four consecutive World Championships and a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics....

 and Sandra Bezic
Sandra Bezic
Sandra Marie Bezic is a Canadian pair skater, figure skating choreographer, and television commentator. With partner and brother Val Bezic, she won the Canadian Figure Skating Championships from 1970–1974 and placed ninth at the 1972 Winter Olympics...

.

Chen produced strong results during the 1991-1992 Olympic season. In the fall of 1991, she became the first Chinese figure skater to compete in the United States when she finished 4th at the Skate America competition held in Oakland, California. This event also included Kristi Yamaguchi and Tonya Harding, the world's top two skaters at the time.

After winning the bronze medal at the 1992 World Junior Figure Skating Championships
World Junior Figure Skating Championships
The World Junior Figure Skating Championships is an annual figure skating competition sanctioned by the International Skating Union in which younger figure skaters compete for the title of World Junior Champion...

, she shocked the skating world with a 6th place finish at the Olympics
1992 Winter Olympics
The 1992 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XVI Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event celebrated from 8 to 23 February 1992 in Albertville, France. They were the last Winter Olympics to be held the same year as the Summer Olympics, and the first where the Winter Paralympics...

. Chen was one of only a few skaters who attempted a triple Lutz
Lutz jump
The Lutz is a figure skating jump, named after Alois Lutz, an Austrian skater who performed it in 1913. It is a toepick-assisted jump with an entrance from a back outside edge and landing on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.- Lutz technique:...

 combination in the technical program. (Although she landed the difficult combination, she had problems executing other required elements and was ranked 11th after the opening phase of the competition). In the longer free skate, she landed six triple jumps (all the five different triples and two triple lutzes), again more than any of the skaters that finished ahead of her. Many felt she was undermarked (for instance, British commentators, Chris Howarth and Simon Reed but most everyone in the skating community). Also, Chen's performance was remarkable in that she was the only top 6 skater that did not fall on a jump.

Her success at the Olympics established her as medal contender. Subsequently, she won bronze medals at the 92 and 93 World Championships, the first two won by a Chinese figure skater. In 1994, she became the first Chinese figure skater to medal at the Olympic games
1994 Winter Olympics
The 1994 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XVII Olympic Winter Games, was a winter multi-sport event celebrated from 12 to 27 February 1994 in and around Lillehammer, Norway. Lillehammer failed to win the bid for the 1992 event. Lillehammer was awarded the games in 1988, after having beat...

, winning the bronze medal for a performance that included five triple jumps skated to the soundtrack from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind by Joe Hisaishi
Joe Hisaishi
, known professionally as , is a composer and director known for over 100 film scores and solo albums dating back to 1981.While possessing a stylistically distinct sound, Hisaishi's music has been known to explore and incorporate different genres, including minimalist, experimental electronic,...

. These successes were somewhat overshadowed by the Kerrigan/Harding controversy surrounding the Olympics and by the meteoric rise of another young skater, Oksana Baiul
Oksana Baiul
Oksana Serhiyivna Baiul is a Ukrainian professional figure skater. She is the 1994 Olympic Champion in Ladies' Singles and 1993 World Champion.-Early and personal life:...

.

After the 1994 Olympics, Nancy Kerrigan and Oksana Baiul (the Olympic silver and gold medalists, respectively) retired from amateur competition and Chen became the favorite to win the World title in 94. However, a stress fracture injury kept her out of the competition and jeopardized her career. She made a successful comeback by winning the 1994 NHK Trophy in Japan with an enchanting program, landing six triples (two triple lutzes, the hardest one after the triple axel).

World Championships success


Chen reached the pinnacle of her career in 1995 when she became the World Champion (another first for a Chinese skater) over Surya Bonaly
Surya Bonaly
Surya Bonaly is a French professional figure skater. She is a three-time World Championship silver medalist, a five-time European Champion, the 1991 World Junior Champion and a nine-time French National Champion.-Career:...

 of France and younger competitors from the U.S. (See the table below). Her program featured 5 triple jumps and was skated to the music from the motion picture, The Last Emperor
The Last Emperor
The Last Emperor is a 1987 biopic about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, whose autobiography was the basis for the screenplay written by Mark Peploe and Bernardo Bertolucci. Independently produced by Jeremy Thomas, it was directed by Bertolucci and released in 1987 by Columbia Pictures...

. Sandra Bezic, a choreographer and television commentator, said that "With this program [Chen] says she wants to combine her Asian heritage with a sport that has been originated in the West." (Taken from NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

's broadcast of the event). This program was actually better skated at the 1994 NHK Trophy (see above) as she doubled out the second triple lutz here.

Struggles


Chen struggled after her win at the World Championships. She had inconsistent results during the 1995-1996 season and, thereafter, never regained her top form. Further, she faced younger and more athletic competitors, such as American Michelle Kwan
Michelle Kwan
Michelle Wingshan Kwan is an American figure skater. She is a two-time Olympic medalist, a five-time World champion and a nine-time U.S...

 and Russian Irina Slutskaya.

Chen skated inconsistently during the 1995-1996 season. Although she finished 1st or 2nd at the three Champion's Series events she entered in the fall of 1995, she did struggle. For example, at the competition in France, she finished 7th in the technical program and 1st in the free skate. At the NHK Trophy in Japan, she struggled with her jumps during both phases of the event. The low point of her season came at the Champion's Series Final, where she led going into the free skate but dropped to 4th overall after struggling with her jumps in the free program. Kwan and Slutskaya finished 1st and 2nd, respectively, at the event. In contrast, she won the 1996 Winter Asian Games, a prestigious competition that occurs every four years before the World Championships. Therefore, some doubted that Chen could repeat as World Champion.

Nevertheless, at the 1996 World Championships, Chen skated very well—better than she had skated all season—but she finished 2nd overall to Michelle Kwan. Both skated extremely well and both garnered two perfect marks of 6.0 for Presentation, but Kwan had the edge on the technical scores and won by a final tally of 6 judges to 3 (In other words, 6 judges placed Michelle Kwan ahead of Chen; three placed Chen ahead of Kwan). (See the three tables below). It remains a widely discussed result, but a possible explanation for Kwan's higher technical scores is that she landed 7 triple jumps to Chen's 6 and featured harder and more varied spins.

Chen posted the worst results of her career during the 1996-1997 season. She struggled with injuries and had conflicts with both her long-time coach and her skating federation. She withdrew from competitions in the fall of 1996, citing injury and was ill-prepared for the 1997 World Championships (she was pressured to go by the Chinese government to qualify a spot for Winter Olympcis). There, she finished only 25th after the short program and did not qualify for the final free skate. Nor did her finish qualify China for the ladies' figure skating competition at the 1998 Winter Olympics
1998 Winter Olympics
The 1998 Winter Olympics, officially the XVIII Olympic Winter Games, was a winter multi-sport event celebrated from 7 to 22 February 1998 in Nagano, Japan. Seventy-two nations and 2,176 participans contested in seven sports and 72 events at 15 venues. The games saw the introduction of Women's ice...

.

Thus, in the summer of 1997, Chen, working with a new coach named Liu Hongyun, had to qualify for the Olympics. She did this by winning an event in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 and by finishing 4th and 3rd at events in France and Japan, respectively. Still, she had not regained the form that had won her the World title and did not qualify for the Grand Prix Final
ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating
The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating is a series of international invitational competitions organized by the International Skating Union. Elite figure skaters compete in the disciplines of ladies' singles, men's singles, pair skating, and ice dancing...

 (formerly known as the Champion's Series Final), which was an important pre-Olympic event. Further, there were many competitors that could potentially medal at the Olympics and there were significant doubts that Chen could repeat as a medalist.

Comeback and retirement


At the Olympics
1998 Winter Olympics
The 1998 Winter Olympics, officially the XVIII Olympic Winter Games, was a winter multi-sport event celebrated from 7 to 22 February 1998 in Nagano, Japan. Seventy-two nations and 2,176 participans contested in seven sports and 72 events at 15 venues. The games saw the introduction of Women's ice...

, Chen announced her intention to retire from amateur skating after the Games. Thus her performances took on a special significance both as a comeback and as a farewell. She performed well to "Adiós Nonino" in her technical program and to "Butterfly Lovers
Butterfly Lovers
The Butterfly Lovers is a Chinese legend of a tragic love story of a pair of lovers, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai , whose names form the title of the story...

" in the free skate. Again, she incorporated elements of her Chinese culture into her routine.

Although she had struggled throughout, she was able to complete the two programs well enough to compete for a medal. Her main competitors were Russians Maria Butyrskaya
Maria Butyrskaya
Maria Viktorovna Butyrskaya is a Russian figure skater. She is the 1999 World champion, becoming the oldest woman to win that title and the first Russian woman to become a World champion. She is a three-time European champion and in 2002, at age 29, became the oldest woman to win that title. She...

 and Irina Slutskaya. Like Chen, they skated well, but had mistakes. The final placements were very close and far from unanimous. Chen beat Irina Slutskaya by the tally of 6 judges to 3 and beat Maria Butyrskaya 5 judges to 4. Interestingly, most of the judges ranked Chen in 4th place, away from the medal. But because the 3rd place votes (called "ordinals") were split unevenly between Chen, Butyrskaya, and Slutskaya, Chen managed to win the bronze medal for the second time. (See the two tables below). Tara Lipinski
Tara Lipinski
Tara Kristen Lipinski is an American figure skater. At the age of 15, she won the Ladies' Singles Olympic gold medal in figure skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Lipinski remains the youngest individual gold medalist in the history of the Olympic Winter Games. She is also the 1997 World...

 and Michelle Kwan
Michelle Kwan
Michelle Wingshan Kwan is an American figure skater. She is a two-time Olympic medalist, a five-time World champion and a nine-time U.S...

 finished in 1st and 2nd place, respectively.

Afterwards, her performance was regarded as one of the great comebacks of the Olympic games and is memorable for the emotion she displayed during and after her free skate. Notably, Chen bowed to her coaches following her free skating performance, as she was leaving competition ice for the last time, in gratitude for their training.

Professional life


She retired from amateur competition after the Olympics and turned professional. She toured with Stars on Ice
Stars on Ice
Stars on Ice is a touring figure skating show produced by IMG. It was originally conceived in 1986 as a vehicle for IMG client Scott Hamilton, who had been released from his contract with Ice Capades, after being told that male skaters do not sell tickets...

 for two seasons and competed at many professional and professional-amateur competitions. The Chinese Federation asked Chen to skate at the 9th Chinese National Games in 2001, so she could help younger skaters improve their elegance. She ended up winning. This national competition occurs every four years and is different from the Chinese National Figure Skating Championships that occurs every year.

After retirement she also wrote two books, Butterfly On Ice and The Illusions of a Butterfly. Both books were about her life as a figure skater and the struggles she had with her former coach Li Mingzhu. In the book, Chen mentions how Li started spreading rumors to the Chinese government that she was planning to defect to America, which were untrue. Li herself changed to US Citizenship after Chen won a second bronze medal at the Olympics.

In July 2005 she married Russian Denis Petrov
Denis Petrov
Denis Alekseyevich Petrov is a Russian pair skater who competed for the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Unified Team...

, 1992 Winter Olympics pair skating
Pair skating
Pair skating is a figure skating discipline. International Skating Union regulations describe pair teams as consisting of "one lady and one man." The sport is distinguished from ice dancing and single skating by elements unique to pair skating, including overhead lifts, twist lifts, death spirals,...

 silver medalist. On 28 June 2006, they welcomed a son, Nikita. On 8 July 2009, their daughter, Anastasia, was born. Chen is now manager of the World Ice Arena Skating Academy based at World Ice Arena, an upscale mall rink in Shenzhen
Shenzhen
Shenzhen is a major city in the south of Southern China's Guangdong Province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. The area became China's first—and one of the most successful—Special Economic Zones...

, China. Denis is also the head coach of the skating academy. Chen has also done choreography for Chinese competitive skaters. She continues to do television interviews in China but devotes most of her time to her family and work at the rink. Both Lulu and Denis are naturalized citizens of the United States due to their extensive professional engagements in America.

On 17 January 2006, Chen was one of torchbearers in the 2006 Winter Olympics
2006 Winter Olympics
The 2006 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XX Olympic Winter Games, was a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in Turin, Italy from February 10, 2006, through February 26, 2006. This marked the second time Italy hosted the Olympic Winter Games, the first being the VII Olympic Winter...

 relay, carrying the flame in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, Italy.

On 1 February 2007 Chen skated to "Butterfly Lovers" for the opening ceremony at the 6th Asian Winter Games
Asian Winter Games
The Asian Winter Games is a multi-sport event held every four years for members of the Olympic Council of Asia which features winter events. The Japanese Olympic Committee first suggested the idea of holding a winter version of the Asian Games in 1982...

. Chen had won the competition nearly ten years ago. It was her first time performing since 2002. She landed a double salchow
Salchow jump
The Salchow is a figure skating jump with a takeoff from a back inside edge of one foot. The rotation in the air is made in the direction of the curve of the take-off edge. The landing is made on the back outside edge of the foot opposite the one used for take-off. One or more rotations may be...

 and a single axel
Axel
Axel is a Scandinavian and German male given name, which is also used in parts of the English-speaking world. A French feminine form is Axelle...

. Chen will also be a guest-commentator during the 6th Asian Winter Games for figure skating.

Career highlights

  • First Chinese figure skater to medal and win the World Championships
  • First Chinese figure skater to medal at an Olympics
  • First Chinese figure skater to medal at two consecutive Olympics
  • Has more world medals then any other female Chinese figure skater
  • First Chinese women to land a triple lutz, triple flip, triple loop and triple/triple combination (Triple Toe-Triple Toe) in international competition

Results

Event 1989-90 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 1993-94 1994-95 1995-96 1996-97 1997-98 2000-01
Winter Olympics
Winter Olympic Games
The Winter Olympic Games is a sporting event, which occurs every four years. The first celebration of the Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. The original sports were alpine and cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping and speed skating...

 
6th 3rd 3rd
World Championships
World Figure Skating Championships
The World Figure Skating Championships is an annual figure skating competition sanctioned by the International Skating Union in which elite figure skaters compete for the title of World Champion...

 
12th 3rd 3rd WD 1st 2nd 25th
World Junior Championships
World Junior Figure Skating Championships
The World Junior Figure Skating Championships is an annual figure skating competition sanctioned by the International Skating Union in which younger figure skaters compete for the title of World Junior Champion...

 
3rd 3rd
Asian Winter Games
Asian Winter Games
The Asian Winter Games is a multi-sport event held every four years for members of the Olympic Council of Asia which features winter events. The Japanese Olympic Committee first suggested the idea of holding a winter version of the Asian Games in 1982...

 
1st
Chinese Championships
Chinese Figure Skating Championships
The Chinese Figure Skating Championships are the figure skating national championship held annually to determine the national champions of China. Skaters compete in the disciplines of men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating, and ice dancing.-Men:...

 
1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Champion Series Final
Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final
The Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final is an international, senior-level figure skating competition. It is the culmination of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series. Skaters compete in men's singles, ladies' singles, pair skating, and ice dancing....

 
4th
Skate America
Skate America
Skate America is an international, senior-level figure skating competition held as part of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series. It is organized by the United States Figure Skating Association. The location changes yearly...

 
4th 3rd 2nd WD
Skate Canada International
Skate Canada International
The Skate Canada International is an international, senior-level invitation-only figure skating competition organized by Skate Canada. It is the second competition of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating. The location changes yearly. Medals are awarded in four disciplines: Ladies' singles, Men's...

 
6th 1st
Trophee de France  2nd WD 4th
NHK Trophy
NHK Trophy
The NHK Trophy is an international, senior-level figure skating competition held as part of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series. Figure skaters compete in the disciplines of ladies' singles, men's singles, pair skating, and ice dancing....

 
8th 3rd 4th 1st 1st 3rd
Karl Schäfer Memorial
Karl Schäfer Memorial
The Karl Schäfer Memorial is an annual elite senior-level figure skating competition held in Vienna, Austria. Skaters compete in four disciplines: men's singles, ladies singles, pair skating, and ice dance. The competition is named for figure skater Karl Schäfer. The competition is usually held in...

 
1st
Piruetten 3rd
Chinese National Games  1st

See also

  • Figure skating
    Figure skating
    Figure skating is an Olympic sport in which individuals, pairs, or groups perform spins, jumps, footwork and other intricate and challenging moves on ice skates. Figure skaters compete at various levels from beginner up to the Olympic level , and at local, national, and international competitions...

  • World Figure Skating Championships
    World Figure Skating Championships
    The World Figure Skating Championships is an annual figure skating competition sanctioned by the International Skating Union in which elite figure skaters compete for the title of World Champion...

  • Figure skating at the Olympics
  • Figure skating at the 1992 Winter Olympics
    Figure skating at the 1992 Winter Olympics
    Referee:* Benjamin T. WrightAssistant Referee:* Monique GeorgelinJudges: Reinhard Mirmseker Mary Pearson Yang Jiasheng Monique Petis Mieko Fujimori Ingelise Blangsted Igor Prokop Vanessa Riley* Marina Sanaya Maragaret Ann Wier...

  • Figure skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics
    Figure skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics
    Referee:* Britta LindgrenAssistant Referee:* Gerhardt BubníkJudges: Wendy Utley Jan Olesinski Jarmila Portová Alfred Korytek Yang Jiasheng Margaret Ann Wier Noriko Shirota Audrey Williams Jan Hoffmann Monique Petis -Pairs:...

  • Figure skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics
    Figure skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics
    -Medal table:-Medalists:-Men:The favourites and top two after the short program were Ilia Kulik and Elvis Stojko, who would skate first and last, respectively. Medal contenders Alexei Yagudin, Todd Eldredge and Philippe Candeloro went in between...


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