FIGURE SKATING: A 13-year-old U.S. women’s champion: Alysa Liu

New U.S. Figure Skating women's champion Alysa Liu

She came in as a wild card, a 13-year-old who had pulled off a triple axel in a Novice competition and therefore had a chance to pull an upset.

She did.

Alysa Liu, from Clovis, California, won the Free Skate at the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan on Friday night and climbed from second after the Short Program to the top of the podium.

At 13, she is too young to represent the U.S. in the ISU World Championships, but continues her amazing climb up the ladder from child to U.S. champion:

● 2016: 1st in Intermediate Class
● 2017: 4th in Novice Class
● 2018: 1st in Junior Class
● 2019: 1st in Senior Class

The Short Program was won, as expected, by defending champion Bradie Tennell, who scored 76.60 points – best ever in the U.S. Championships – with Liu second at 73.89. But Liu shined in the Free Skate, compiling the highest score at 143.82, ahead of Mariah Bell (142.10), Ting Cui (139.66) and Tennell (136.99), for a total of 217.51, just about four points higher than Tennell, with Bell third (212.40).

Liu skated a clean program, including a triple Axel, triple Axel to a triple Toe Loop, triple Lutz to a triple Toe Loop and a triple Lutz and triple Salchow.

The U.S. gets two entries into the women’s event at the World Championships in Saitama (JPN) in April; eligibility is restricted to athletes aged 15 by 1 July of 2018. So, Tennell and Bell are the likely nominees. In fact, the current ISU rules do not even allow Liu to compete in the World Junior Championships, as she had not turned 13 by 1 July of 2018 (she was 12). Wow!

The U.S. Nationals continues through the weekend. Summaries:

U.S. Figure Skating National Championships
Detroit, Michigan (USA) ~ 24-27 January 2019
(Full results here)

Women: 1. Alysa Liu, 217.51 (2nd in Short Program + 1st in Free Skate); 2. Bradie Tennell, 213.59 (1 + 4); 3. Mariah Bell, 212.40 (3 + 2); 4. Hanna Harrell, 203.11 (5 + 5); 5. Ting Cui, 194.30 (12 + 3); 6. Megan Wessenberg, 182.55 (7 + 6); 7. Amber Glenn, 180.73 (4 + 8); 8. Starr Andrews, 175.70 (8 + 7).