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2019 Nationals: Senior Ladies Free Skate

by Liz Leamy


Liu Brings Down the House and Takes the Ladies Event 

(26 January 2019)   The ladies free skate drew a packed house at downtown Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena and with good reason.

This lively and clearly driven ‘next’ generation of top U.S. ladies proved they were on top of their game, with Alysa Liu, the 13 year-old jumping sensation coming out on top of the leaderboard with a total of 217.51 points.  Liu is the youngest U.S. Lady's Champion in U.S. Figure Skating history.

Liu, a California native, brought the house to their feet with a rousing standing ovation for her compelling program to the ‘Witches of Eastwick’ soundtrack, in which she knocked out two triple Axels (one in combination with a double toe), making her the first American woman to perform two triple Axels in a free skate and three in a short plus long program.

She also did a triple Lutz-triple toe loop, triple flip, triple loop, triple Lutz-half loop-triple Salchow, double Axel, some terrific spins and other elements.

Thrilled with her outcome in this event, Liu said she was just happy to have skated a strong program.

“I just really wanted to do my best when I got here,” said Liu. “I was really happy with my score, happy I beat my [personal best] score and did a clean long program.”

Liu, who is a year shy to qualify for competing at the World Junior Championships in March, said she plans to go back home to start working on adding quads to her programs.  Her coach, Laura Lipetsky, said that Liu has already landed a quad Lutz in practice.

Bradie Tennell, the 2018 U.S. Champion scored second with a 213.59 total score for her dramatic program to the film score from ‘Romeo and Juliet.’

Tennell, 20, who won the short, was fourth in this portion of the competition, executing a triple Axel-triple loop, triple flip, triple loop-double toe-double loop, a triple Salchow and double Axel. She did miss a triple Lutz, however.

Still, her spins and artistry were exceptional, designating this as a stalwart performance.

“I was focused on me and what I had to do,” said Tennell. “I want to go back [in preparation for Worlds] and work on every little detail and strive for perfection.”

Mariah Bell, who was second in the free skate, wound up third overall with a 212.40.

Bell, skating to ‘Devinir,’ appeared to be perhaps the fastest skater in this competition and did some powerful triples, including a triple flip-double toe, triple flip, triple Lutz-double toe-double loop, triple loop, double Axel-triple toe and double Axel. She did miss a triple Lutz, however.

“I’m focusing on being the best version of the skater I can be,” said Bell, 22. “[Going into Worlds] I’m taking the programs I did here and [will be] working on where I can be better.”

Overall, all of the skaters performed dozens of beautiful triples, artfully formed spins amidst rich and diverse programs that kept the audience fully engaged from start to finish of this event.

They all wore stunning dresses costumes that matched the mood and personality of their music.

At the same time, they all did breathtaking spirals, Ina Bauers, spread eagles, Charlottes and other show stopping ‘connecting’ steps that went over big with the Detroit crowd and have, honestly, not been on display ‘en masse’ like this since the International Judging System was first implemented back in the mid-2002, rendering this a big event on many levels.

“[I think tonight] we’re showing we have a really strong group of ladies [in the U.S.],” said Bell. “I had a really great time and always have a really great time at Nationals.”