Home Figure Skating News U.S. Junior champ Logan Higase-Chen prepares for 2024-25

U.S. Junior champ Logan Higase-Chen prepares for 2024-25

From holiday rink to the national podium

by Paula Slater
Melanie Heaney/U.S. Figure Skating

Logan Higase-Chen

Logan Higase-Chen

In her second season as a junior, USA’s Logan Higase-Chen medaled at both international events, taking a silver at 2023 Cranberry Cup International and a gold at 2023 Budapest Trophy. She then won the 2024 Midwestern Sectional Singles Final, easily qualifying for her second trip to nationals.

At the 2024 Prevagen U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Higase-Chen found herself in third place after the short program with just a 3.78-point gap between first and sixth place.

“I felt ok after the short,” she recalled. “I wasn’t happy with myself that I left the last jump in my triple flip-triple toe underrotated. But I was confident that I could be stronger in the free. I was very serious and focused going into the free.”

“I attacked the free skate, going for every element as fearlessly as I could,” she continued. “I think I started pretty strong. But I made a silly mistake, falling on the triple flip opener to my three-jump sequence. I had to think quickly on my feet. There was only one spot left where I could add the two jumps back in, which was on the last jump of the program – the triple loop. I fought for that combo!”

It paid off. Higase-Chen finished first in the free skate and overall, winning the event with 4.54 points to spare.

“Afterwards, I was watching the last skater together with Amber Glenn, who also trains at the World Arena,” she recalled. “Amber told me about when she had won the Junior Championship ten years before. That was a cool moment. I was happy to be there a few days later when Amber won the National Championships.”

Christmas pop-up rink

Higase-Chen began skating at the age of six when she was at a Christmas “pop-up” rink in Tokyo, Japan. She was donned in a yellow helmet, purple tights, and red rental skates with double blades.

“The pop-up rink was in the middle of a square in Akasaka, Tokyo, surrounded by towering skyscrapers and was super fun!” she recalled. “After that, my parents told me that I started asking for skating lessons. My parents said that they would get me lessons if I was willing to give up summer camp, which I loved. They were shocked when I said ‘OK’ without a moment’s hesitation. My parents told me that is when they knew I was really serious about skating.”

Soon after her first summer of skating lessons in Tokyo, the family relocated to Hong Kong due to work. Higase-Chen then began skating in a shopping mall called “Elements” in Hong Kong. Not long after, she decided to compete at a local competition where she skated to “Reflections” from Mulan.

“I had a pink Chinese paper umbrella as a prop and a pretty blue costume,” she remembered.

A year later, her coaches in Hong Kong told her parents that she needed a higher-level coach and recommended that she travel across the border to Shenzhen, China.

“That was when I met the Chinese Olympian Lu Chen,” said Higase-Chen. “Lulu and her husband, Denis Petrov, who was also an Olympic medalist, were my coaches from when I was seven until I moved to the U.S. when I was 10. I remember the first week I ever skated with Lulu. It was summer. It was hot. We were skating at an amusement park rink in Shenzhen. There were puddles of water on the ice and a hazy fog in the air. But when Lulu started skating with me, it was beautiful! She was the first major influence in my life as a skater.”

Logan Higase-Chen

Relocation to the U.S.

Higase-Chen was born in Hong Kong on Sep. 3, 2008, to parents Mark and Margaret. Mark is from the U.S., but his parents were originally from Taiwan. Margaret, “Mari” for short, is Japanese. Therefore, “Higase” in the skater’s last name is Japanese, while “Chen” is from her father’s side. Her 11-year-old brother, Aris, was born in Tokyo, and also uses the same last name.

“My middle name is ‘Hana’, which is my Japanese name,” said Higase-Chen.

The family moved from Hong Kong to Tokyo when she was almost two, and then relocated back to Hong Kong in 2014. At the time, a political protest known as the “Umbrella Movement” was taking place.

“Then, in the summer of 2019 when I was 10, Hong Kong was again under political protest,” said Higase-Chen. “But this time, it was violent. The shopping mall where I used to skate was attacked by a mob. Riots were breaking out on the street. My dad said the worst was when he saw on the news that an old man had been set on fire.”

The skater was in Spain at the time, training with Javier Fernandez and his sister Laura at a summer camp.

“That summer, my parents decided that we were not going back to Hong Kong,” said Higase-Chen. “And that is how we ended up moving to the U.S.”

From Florida to Colorado

Higase-Chen began her training in the U.S. under ice dance coach Marina Zoueva in Estero, Florida, at the International Skating Academy.

“I was very fortunate that Marina invited me to train at her rink,” said the skater. “Her rink was focused on dance and pairs with the Japanese National ice dance and Russian National pairs teams training there as well. That is where I was living when COVID hit.”

In late 2020, the family moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., where Higase-Chen began working with Tammy Gambill. Her team also includes Damon Allen, Eddie Shipstad, Sandy Straub, Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, Drew Meekins, Natalya Khazova, Erik Shulz, and Tyrone Bennett.

“A few skaters that we knew had introduced us to Coach Tammy,” the 15-year-old recalled. “She was the second major influence in my life as a skater. Within six months of moving to Colorado, she helped me get all my triples. In my first season under her, I competed as an Intermediate, finishing second in the country and making the U.S. Development Team.”

The move to Juniors

The following season, Gambill encouraged Higase-Chen to move up to the junior ranks.

“I was nervous,” admitted the skater, “but Coach Tammy believed in me, and she was right. I landed my first triple-triple combo in competition just in time to qualify for the U.S. Junior Team Cup. There, amazingly, I earned a Junior Grand Prix (JGP) assignment and a Team USA spot! I was so proud to wear the jacket! ”

Higase-Chen gained valuable experience during the 2022-23 season. She placed 15th in her JGP debut in Poland and followed up with a silver-medal win at the 2023 Midwestern Sectional Singles Final. She then rounded out the top 10 junior women at the 2023 Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships, her first trip to nationals.

Having wrapped up a successful 2023-24 season, the skater is now moving up to Senior domestically. But given the age requirements, she will still need to compete internationally as a Junior.

Reflecting on 2023-24 programs

Last season, Catarina Lindgren choreographed Higase-Chen’s short program to music from La La Land, which was a mid-season replacement program in the 2022-23 season.

Drew Meekins choreographed the free skate to Snow White and the Huntsman.

“The funny thing is, when we decided to use this music, both Drew and Coach Tammy immediately thought that the character for me was the evil queen rather than Snow White!” she laughed. “I don’t know if people could tell. That is why my costume looked the way it did. I was the evil queen!”

The teen loved both her programs. She said, “La La Land had a golden age of Hollywood feeling. Snow White had a very dramatic, cinematic feeling. I got to play such different characters in the two programs. Coach Tammy used to always remind me to smile in La La Land and scowl in Snow White!”

“I also loved both my costumes, which were beautifully designed by Mathieu Caron,” Higase-Chen added. “Mathieu’s costumes really helped me to get into character.”

Music, training and goals for 2024-25

This season, Higase-Chen will be skating to “Fantasy on Ice” performed by Sarah Alainn and composed by Maxime Rodriguez for her short program.

“Mark Mitchell helped put the music together and Jamie Isley choreographed it,” she said. “It is hauntingly beautiful, and I really like the choreography!”

Lori Nichol choreographed her new free skate to a dark flamenco instrumental called “Los Moros” by Gino D’Auri.

“This was mixed with a violin instrumental called “Asturias” performed by Angie Violinist and composed by Isaac Albeniz,” Higase-Chen shared. “I love the theme and feel of the free skate. ‘Los Moros’ translates to ‘The Moors.’ I spent some time in Granada, Spain, where there is an old Moorish palace called the Alhambra. The free skate reminds of that beautiful area!”

While the skater is “pretty comfortable” with all her jumps, she said that the triple flip and triple loop are her favorites.

“My last triple to become stable was actually the triple toe,” she shared. “Now, I only really use the triple toe for triple-triple combos.”

Higase-Chen feels that her artistry is what she improved on the most since last season.

“I am pushing myself really hard to do more complex, artistic programs this season,” she said. “I want to be more than just a technical skater.”

She has been working on a triple Lutz-triple toe combination for the first half of the short program and hopes to show it this season. The skater will most likely use a triple flip-triple toe and triple Lutz-double Axel-double Axel sequence in the free skate, pending final rule changes. A new flying spin is also in her repertoire. However, in the future, the skater would really like to work on more difficult jumps.

“Right now, I am practicing the triple Axel, quad Salchow, quad toe, and quad loop on the harness,” she offered. “I don’t think they will be ready for this upcoming season, but hopefully I can continue to get closer.”

Education and Hobbies

Higase-Chen will be a sophomore at Cheyenne Mountain High School this year, and she’s excited to be reunited with her fellow team USA skaters, Clare Seo and Oliva Flores, who attend the same school. Her favorite subject is math, but she also likes biology. In fact, she may be interested in pursuing a career in the medical field one day after experiencing her own emergency.

“I dislocated my shoulder in March from a freak fall,” she explained. “Luckily, it was after nationals. My experience going to the hospital to have my shoulder reset, getting an MRI, having a surgical consult, and then going through physical therapy made me appreciate the medical profession even more. I was pretty scared when my arm was just dangling.”

The skater was concerned how it would affect her skating and was “terrified” that she would have to spend a year in rehabilitation. She had torn the labrum and fractured the end of the bone. Fortunately, she was only off the ice for a month while doing physical therapy and laser treatment.

“I was lucky,” she said. “There was a whole team of doctors and nurses to put my shoulder back in place. I was worried that I would need surgery, which would require 10 months recovery. Luckily, my shoulder has been healing well. Knock on wood! But that is what interests me about medicine. Perhaps I would like to be an orthopedic specialist myself or a hospitalist like my uncle.”

When not studying or training, she loves to ski.

“I don’t get to go very often with all the training and competitions,” she said. “Sometimes my skater friends and I go on Sunday which is our off-day from training.”

“My friends and I also like to make a Chinese dessert called ‘tanghulu,'” Higase-Chen added. “We make it by dipping fruits in sugary syrup that hardens into a shell. It is very yummy. I particularly like the oranges!”

She also likes to follow the latest beauty and fashion trends online with her friends, as well as trying the latest Tik Tok dances. The skater has a red-black belt in Taekwondo, but due to time constraints, hasn’t been able to practice.

Family and Pets

Higase-Chen’s grandmother from her mother’s side lives in Tokyo and is a huge figure skating fan, watching all of her competitions. Her other grandmother, also a big supporter, lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her grandfather and her uncle.

Her brother, Aris, doesn’t skate but likes music and chess. In fact, he will be competing in chess tournaments this year. He also practices Taekwondo and is a blue belt.

The family has a two-year-old Shihpoo (Shih Tzu-Poodle mix) named “Teddy Jiro.”

“My dog is a super cutie!” said the skater. “His English name is ‘Teddy’, and his Japanese name is ‘Jiro’, which means ‘second son’.

Awards and Charity

When Higase-Chen lived in Hong Kong, she attended the Harrow International School Hong Kong, a British boarding school. While there, she won both the Harrow School Leadership and Victrix Ludorum awards.

“I won the Leadership Award for playing a key role in my class including being a member of the student council,” she explained. “I won the Victrix Ludorum for being the most well-rounded athlete. I competed for the school’s cross-country, aquathon (swim and run), and taekwondo teams.”

The skater is also a member of the National Charity League (NCL). The California-based national non-profit organization is designed to encourage community service and volunteering opportunities for mothers and their daughters in grades 7-12.

“My mom and I do various volunteer activities in Colorado Springs as part of the Pikes Peak chapter,” she said.

The teenager is currently planning on competing at the 2024 Skate Milwaukee in July, which will host the U.S. Junior Team Cup, in hopes for a JGP assignment.

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