Alysa Liu Wins U.S. National Figure Skating Championship at 13 Years Old

(DETROIT) — Alysa Liu was already a phenom. Now she’s a national champion at age 13.

Liu stole the show Friday night, breezing through a free skate that included two triple axels and dethroning 2018 winner Bradie Tennell at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Liu became the youngest winner of an individual title at this event, and after her score was posted, she put her hands over her face, overcome with emotion.

“I was just happy that I beat my personal record, and I did a clean long program,” Liu said.

Liu had already landed a triple axel in the short program Thursday, and she was in second place behind Tennell entering Friday. Tennell fell during her long program, and Liu, skating immediately after, seized the opportunity. Her first triple axel was in combination with a double toe loop. Then she landed another triple axel, and by the time she finished her performance — set to “Witches of Eastwick” by John Williams — she was beaming.

Tara Lipinski was the youngest women’s champion at nationals after winning at age 14 in 1997, and Scott Allen also was 14 when he won in 1964. Now a commentator with NBC, Lipinski was there Friday when her record fell.

“Records are made to be broken,” Lipinski said afterward. “It is quite an honor that she is the one to do it. What a phenomenal talent.”

Earlier Friday, Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue took a step toward defending their ice dancing title, finishing atop the standings after the rhythm dance. Hubbell and Donohue will compete for their second straight national championship in the free dance Saturday.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates were second after the rhythm dance, followed by Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker.

The ice dancing competition was one of the most anticipated events of the week, in part because the top teams have plenty of ties to Michigan. Hubbell was born in Michigan, and she and Donohue used to train there. Chock and Bates are from Michigan as well.

Those two teams now train in Montreal under the same coaches — with Hawayek and Baker there as well.

“We’re pretty lucky that we get to train with the best in the world,” Donohue said. “We’re pushing each other. … We’ve got such a unique, incredible atmosphere where we all love each other, we all want to beat each other.”

The women’s competition was without several big names, with Karen Chen, Mirai Nagasu and Gracie Gold all missing it for various reasons. Now Liu looks like she could provide a boost for American figure skating. The U.S. hasn’t won an Olympic medal in women’s figure skating since 2006.

“To handle the pressure like she did, and to push the technical envelope as far as she’s pushing it, at such a young age, is truly mind blowing,” Lipinski said. “I think she’s the future of U.S. ladies’ figure skating.”

The U.S. nationals are being held in Detroit for the first time in 25 years. The 1994 event is best remembered for the attack on Nancy Kerrigan after a practice, but there was a 13-year-old who shined that year too — Michelle Kwan, who finished second.

The 4-foot, 7-inch Liu had already turned heads in August, when she became the youngest woman to land a triple axel in international competition. On Friday, she showed poise and ability on a big stage, although international stardom may have to wait a bit. Under the current age restriction, she’s not even eligible to compete at worlds until 2022.

“I’m not too worried about that part,” Liu said. “Because I get more time to work on my jumps, skating skills, spins, and just trying to learn more.”

Liu received a score of 217.51. Tennell finished second at 213.59, and Mariah Bell was third. Bell was the only skater left after Liu, and she fell during her routine.

Tennell stepped out of a triple loop in a combination early in her program, and she fell attempting a triple lutz.

“Obviously, it wasn’t my best skate, and I’m disappointed,” Tennell said. “There’s always something to be learned from skates like this, so I’m excited to get back home and work harder than ever to fix what I made mistakes on.”

Sports – TIME

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The best places to go ice skating in America

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When the holiday season arrives, people all over the country take to the ice in full force, as the best time to go ice skating begins. Ice skating is an activity that is enjoyed by people of all ages all over the world, and it doesn’t matter if the ground is covered in crisp white snow or if a blazing sun is burning in the sky. So where are the best places to go ice skating in America? We will try to point you in the right direction to have a fun filled ice skating experience.

Missouri – Kansas Ice Terrace

In Kansas City, Missouri, you will find the Crown Center Ice Terrace, where many locals gather to enjoy the festive season on the ice. It has quite a history – people have been skating here for more than forty years. The Ice Terrace is all decked out for Christmas, with a 100-foot tree, 6,000 white lights, and more than 1,000 Christmas ornaments. Ice skating can be enjoyed right up until March 11th.

Jackson, Wyoming – Snake River Sporting Club

Ice time at Snake River, which has quite an exotic ring about it, has a fun, North Pole winter feel about it. The view is incredible, with the snowy peaks of the Teton mountain range close by and an abundance of skiers flying about on skies. It’s like a scene from a festive Christmas postcard, and a paradise for skaters. Behind the Snake River Clubhouse, you will find the ice rink surrounded by the forest and mountains. This location feels so peaceful and so close to nature. The air is crisp, which really helps skaters get in the spirit of this special time of year.

Rockford, Illinois – Eclipse Lagoon

Rockford’s Eclipse Lagoon is another location set in nature that is really hard to beat. Imagine all the best features of a frozen lagoon at the beautiful Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens. Obviously, with a natural environment, quality ice time is determined by the weather conditions, but January is normally a good time to visit the Eclipse Lagoon.

Colorado Springs, Colorado – The Broadmoor World Arena Ice Hall

The exceptional point about Broadmoor is that it’s an Olympic training ice rink, and has been for many years. This is where you can really strut your stuff in the same place where champions practiced their moves. In fact, there is only one other place like Broadmoor in the whole United States. You will have to pay special attention to when you book your time on the ice, as the rink is mainly used for training.

Jackson, New Hampshire – Nestlenook Farms

This is another location with a real winter wonderland feel about it. The views are reminiscent of those Christmas card themes, and there is a kind of fairy tale atmosphere about the place. It’s natural and you get to skate under decorated bridges as you make your way around the frozen pond. Other seasonal treats available here include campfires, hot drinks, and sleigh rides.

If you are looking for some quality ice time, in idyllic conditions, these five locations might just be perfect for you.

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