GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- Karen Chen had a boot problem.
It almost seemed as if the talented Fremont, Calif., figure skater had talked herself out of performing at her best Friday at the Pyeongchang Games.
Judges deducted points on five of Chen's jumps in the free skate to encapsulate another frustrating day for U.S. skaters who all fell during their short-program routines two days earlier.
They had their worst Olympic performance since the 1948 St. Moritz Games in Switzerland. U.S. champion Bradie Tennell finished ninth -- 47.22 points behind Russian winner Alina Zagitova. Mirai Nagasu didn't even pretend to try a triple axel, the most difficult jump in women's skating, and finished 10th, just ahead of 11th place Chen, who was almost 54 points back of the gold-medal winner.
"I've trained myself to skate better than that," she said. "To not be able to deliver is a huge letdown."
Chen, 17, blamed a boot issue that bothered her the previous day at practice. The skater who trains in Riverside has a history of feet issues and changes boots every six weeks. During one recent season, she changed boots at least 20 times.
The latest problem involved one of her boots breaking down.
"It kind of split so a lot of moisture got into the boot," Chen said. "The blade was sinking into my skate."
The 5-foot athlete tried to make adjustments in the morning practice Friday. But the situation shook her confidence.