by Liz Leamy
(15 January 2020) Alysa Liu, the effervescent 14 year-old Clovis, California native who last season, catapulted herself right into the sport’s main spotlight after having captured the 2019 U.S. title, seems poised and primed to defend her position as the ladies frontrunner at the 2020 U.S. Championships in Greensboro next week.
This talented skater, described by Frank Carroll, the legendary coach of such iconic U.S. competitors as Evan Lysacek, the 2010 Olympic champion, and Michelle Kwan, the nine-time U.S. titlist, five-time World gold medalist and two-time Olympic medalist, among others, seems to be right on track with in regard to her journey as a burgeoning worldwide skating sensation.
This driven and talented athlete, who first began skating at age five in group lessons and started landing clean and consistent Axels a year later at age six, has been impressing onlookers and officials at the national level with her astonishing arsenal of technical elements for numerous seasons now.
In 2016, Liu captured the U.S. Intermediate title at age 10 with a Double Axel, triple Salchow and triple toe loop.
The following season, at age 11, Liu claimed fourth in the Novice division at the 2017 U.S. Championships with a Double Axel, triple Salchow, triple toe loop, triple loop and triple flip.
Subsequently, Liu went on to claim the 2018 U.S. junior title at age 12 with a solid library of triples through the Lutz.
Last year, in 2019, Liu famously went on to make history for being the youngest female to ever claim gold in the Championship division at a U.S. Nationals where she scored top honors by knocking out two triple Axels, one in combination, in the free skate event.
This season, Liu has further continued to build upon her astonishing competitive resume, as she clinched a coveted silver medal in December at the International Skating Union Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy.
For this extraordinary young athlete, it’s all about staying focused and on course, which means using the knowledge she obtains from each competition to further increase her artistic and technical standard.
“Every competition is a unique experience,” said Liu in a pre-Nationals teleconference media call. “You learn from them and work from them.”
Clearly, this seems to be the case, especially based upon the fact that Liu seems to elevate her technical level at practically every event at which she competes.
Last September, she wound up on top of the leaderboard at the ISU Junior Grand Prix event in Lake Placid by a large margin due to the fact that she executed two quads as well as a triple Axel in the free skate, which once again put her in the history books for being the first lady to do both a quad and triple Axel in competition.
Last month, Liu further demonstrated her steely technical resolve at the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final, where she went head-to-head against some of the much-buzzed about and Teflon-tough Russian contenders who also included quads in their programs.
In regard to that event, Liu said she was thrilled to wind up on the podium.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Liu, who, since the age of five and a half, has worked with Laura Lipetsky, a former U.S. ladies contender who had trained with Frank Carroll in Los Angeles for many years. “It was great to wind up on the podium and [the competition] was up there as one of the best experiences of my life.”
Liu, who is one of five children and trains in Oakland, California, said she is excited about her programs this season.
This year, she is skating to Barbra Streisand’s ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ from the Funny Girl film soundtrack for her short program and the compelling arrangement of ‘New World Symphony’ by Jennifer Thomas for her free skate.
“The short program is really fun and I’m just being me,” said Liu, who likes to bike and also hang out with her four siblings, during her free time. “The free skate is more magical.”
Next week in Greensboro, Liu plans to do two triple Axels and a quad Lutz in her free skate, although she said there is a chance the technical plans could change up a bit.
The biggest thing Liu seems to be looking forward to in Greensboro, however, is to just get out on the ice and skate in front of the crowd.
“I’m just excited,” said Liu, who said she skates about 17 to 18 hours in addition to eight hours of off-ice training per week. “I think I’ve trained enough and think I’m ready for Nationals.”