Alysa Liu

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Alysa Liu
Alysa Liu at the 2019 JGP Lake Placid - FS.jpg
Personal information
Country represented United States
Born (2005-08-08) August 8, 2005 (age 15)
Clovis, California
Home townRichmond, California
Height1.52 m (5 ft 0 in)
CoachLee Barkell
Lori Nichol
Massimo Scali[1]
Jeremy Abbott[2]
Phillip DiGuglielmo[3]
Former coachLaura Lipetsky
ChoreographerLori Nichol
Former choreographerCindy Stuart[4]
Skating clubSt. Moritz ISC
Training locationsOakland, California
Began skating2010
ISU personal best scores
Combined total208.10
2019 JGP United States
Short program71.19
2019–20 JGP Final
Free skate138.99
2019 JGP Poland
Alysa Liu
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Alysa Liu (born August 8, 2005) is a American figure skater. She is a two-time U.S. national champion (2019, 2020). On the junior level, she is the 2020 World Junior bronze medalist, the 2019–20 Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist, a two-time Junior Grand Prix champion, and the 2018 U.S. junior national champion.

Liu is the youngest-ever U.S. ladies' national champion, having won her first title at age 13. She is the first to win two consecutive titles since Ashley Wagner did so in 2012 and 2013. She is also the first lady to win the junior and senior titles back-to-back since Mirai Nagasu accomplished the feat in 2008.

Liu is the first junior American ladies' singles skater to successfully complete a triple Axel in international competition, and only the third American lady overall to do so after Tonya Harding and Nagasu. She is also the first and only American female skater to successfully complete a quad jump (quadruple Lutz) in a competition. Liu is the first ladies skater to ever land both a quadruple jump and a triple Axel in the same program.

Personal life[edit]

Liu was born on August 8, 2005, in Clovis, California, the oldest child of Arthur Liu, an attorney who immigrated to the U.S. from a small mountain village in Sichuan, China in the 1990s at the age of 25, after earning degrees in China. He was further educated in California, earning M.B.A. and J.D. degrees.[5][6] Liu is the oldest of five children; like her siblings (a sister, Selina, and triplets Joshua, Justin, and Julia), she was conceived through an anonymous egg donor and a surrogate mother.[7] At the time of Liu's birth, her father was still married to Yan "Mary" Qingxin, whom Liu and her siblings refer to as their mom, and who acts as their legal guardian, even after her divorce from Arthur.[8]

Liu attended Chinese school for three years, then attended the Oakland School for the Arts, which, at the time, offered an emphasis in figure skating. When she started missing too much school due to traveling to competitions, she began homeschooling at her father's law office in between practices. She uses the same online program that other skaters, including fellow Bay Area skaters Karen Chen and Vincent Zhou, have used.[4] Liu limited her social media use after an abundance of negative comments on her posts, causing her to find it “not worth it” and "exhausting."[9]

In 2019, Liu was named to the inaugural Time 100 Next list; Michelle Kwan authored the recognition article.[10]


Early career[edit]

Liu began skating at the age of five, when her father, a fan of Michelle Kwan, brought her to the Oakland Ice Center. She began taking group lessons with her coach, Laura Lipetsky, a former figure skater who had trained under Frank Carroll, and quickly moved to individual sessions.[6][4][7] Her coach, Laura Lipetsky, began teaching her at 5½ years old and her choreographer, Cindy Stuart, also started working with her when she was young.[4]

Liu's first skating competition was as a juvenile in 2015, when she came in seventh place at the Central Pacific Regionals.[11] At the 2016 U.S. Championships, she became the youngest female skater to earn the intermediate gold medal, winning by less than a point.[12][13] She was first after the short program; her free skate included two triple Salchows, the first completed in combination with a double toe loop and earning her a "program-high 7.00 points".[12]

Competing in the novice category, Liu placed fourth at the 2017 U.S. Championships.[14] She was in first place after her short program, with a 1.22 point lead. Her short program included a split jump into a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, which was ruled under-rotated, and a triple flip.[13] Liu fell to fourth place after the long program, where she landed two triple-triple combinations, but did not earn sufficient program component scores to retain her narrow lead.[15]

2017–18 season: National junior champion[edit]

Liu opened her season with a silver medal at the 2017 Asian Open Trophy, where she finished second to Japan's Mana Kawabe.[16] She was the youngest skater to compete in the junior division at the 2018 U.S. Championships in San Jose, California. She won the competition, despite suffering from a cold and sore throat.[4][17] She scored a season's best in the short program with an almost seven-point lead going into the free skate. Her short program included three level-4 spins, a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, and a triple Lutz, earning her 63.83 points.[18] She earned 120.33 points during her long program, after landing two double Axels and seven triple jumps, which were all backloaded in the second half of the program. Liu was given extra points on all her jumps, except for the triple flip-single loop-triple Salchow combination. She earned an overall score of 184.16 points, almost 18 more than silver medalist Pooja Kalyan and the second highest-ever score on the junior level.[17][19][20] Despite winning the gold, Liu was ineligible to compete at the 2018 World Junior Championships because she was not old enough. She was sent to the 2018 International Challenge Cup instead, where she won the advanced novice silver medal behind Hanna Yoshida of Japan.[21][22]

2018–19 season: First senior national title[edit]

In August 2018, Liu competed as a novice at the 2018 Asian Open Trophy in Bangkok, Thailand. She won the gold, outscoring the silver medalist, Japan's Sara Honda, by over ten points.[23] She landed a ratified triple Axel in the free skate, becoming the youngest skater in history to perform a clean triple Axel in competition and the fourth American female skater to do so, following Tonya Harding, Kimmie Meisner, and Mirai Nagasu.[24]

Although Liu was too young to compete internationally at the senior or junior level, she qualified to compete in the senior ranks at the 2019 U.S. Championships in Detroit, Michigan.[25] On January 25, 2019, she broke Tara Lipinski's previous record by becoming the youngest skater to win the U.S. senior women's title, after placing second in the short to defending U.S. champion Bradie Tennell with a record score (which was broken minutes later by Tennell), and first in the free skate. She became the youngest female skater to land a triple Axel at the U.S. Nationals, as well as the third female skater to do so (after Harding and Meissner), and the first female skater to do so during a short program at Nationals.[26][27] She was also the first female skater to complete three triple Axels in U.S. competition. Liu scored 73.89 points in her short program, 2.71 points behind Tennell, the leader after the short program.[28][29] In the long program, Tennell and Mariah Bell, who took third place in the short program, both made errors, ""opening the door for Liu".[28] Her program component score "fell well short of Tennell's and Bell's",[28] but her technical scores made up the difference, and she posted an overall score of 217.51.[30] She completed two consecutive triple Axels, including the first one in combination, during her long program, and out of the other six triples she completed (one of which was also in combination), only the flip was downgraded.[28]

Since Liu was too young to compete at both the junior and senior level World Championships, her season ended in January, after U.S. Nationals, which gave her time to work on her skating skills and choreography with Italian skater Carolina Kostner in Rome, an arrangement made by her coach, Laura Lipetsky. She began working with Italian choreographer and Olympic ice dancing competitor, Massimo Scali, who is now based in Oakland, also on her skating skills and choreography the end of 2019.[31]

2019–20 season: International junior debut[edit]

Liu's first competition for the 2019–2020 season was at the inaugural Aurora Games, an international all-female competition held in August 2019. She earned perfect scores, led the U.S. team to first place overall, and was the first American female skater to successfully complete a quadruple Lutz in competition, albeit in one not sanctioned by the ISU.[32]

Liu made her international competition debut at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Lake Placid in August 2019. Skating to "Don't Rain on My Parade" by Barbra Streisand in her short program, she scored 69.30 points, breaking her own personal best short program record by almost 20 points. She completed all her jumps, including three triples, completed three level-4 spins, and earned positive grades of execution for all seven elements.[33] During her long program, Liu became the first American female skater to complete a quadruple Lutz in a competition. She also became the first female skater to complete a quadruple jump and a triple Axel in the same program in a competition. Skating to pianist Jennifer Thomas’ version of “New World Symphony," which was choreographed by Lori Nichol, Liu started her long program with a triple Axel-double toe loop combination, followed by her quadruple Lutz, which she earned 13.80 points for. She fell on her second triple Axel, but was able to successfully execute her following six triple jumps. She also earned level-4 scores for her three spins and top marks for her step sequence, earning a 59.66 program component score. She won the event by 21.52 points over the silver medalist, South Korean Park Yeon-jeong. It was the first in 20 Junior Grand Prix events that a non-Russian skater won and the first time an American won a Junior Grand Prix event since Polina Edmunds in 2013.[34][35]

Liu's second slot in the Junior Grand Prix was in Poland. She came in fourth after the short program, but came from behind to win the event.[36] In her short program, she completed, at the start of her program, a triple Axel-triple toeloop, the first in Junior Grand Prix history.[37] She doubled a planned triple loop, trailing by a little over four points going into the free skate.[36] In her free skate, Liu "just about held onto" her first jump, a triple Axel, but improved as she went along, completing a combination that included a double toeloop.[37] She then completed a quadruple Lutz, a "much better" triple Axel, a triple loop, and "two excellent combinations—triple Lutz-triple toeloop and triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow".[37] She ended her program with a triple flip, and earned three level-4 spins.[38] She earned a season's best score of 138.99 in the free skate and 203.10 overall. She qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final in second place, the first American female skater to do so since Karen Chen and Polina Edmunds in 2013, with 30 points.[36][37][39]

Liu won the silver medal at the Junior Grand Prix Final behind Russia's Kamila Valieva and ahead of Daria Usacheva, also of Russia.[40] A little over two points separated the first and fourth place skaters in the short program. Liu placed first in the short program, with a triple Axel-triple toe combination and 71.09 points, a little over one-point lead.[41] Although her jumps were the most difficult in her long program and she successfully completed six triple jumps, both her quadruple Lutzes and a triple Axel were judged underrotated, and she fell on her opening triple Axel, placing her second in the free skate and second overall.[40][41] She told reporters afterwards, "I think I should have only done one quad but I really wanted to go for it just for the fun of it".[40]

Liu entered the 2020 U.S. Championships as the favorite to defend her title.[42] She placed second in the short program after turning out of her triple Axel attempt, but successfully landed a triple flip and a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, as well executing level-4 spins and footwork. She earned 75.40 points, a little over 3.50 points behind Bradie Tennell; she also had a technical base value advantage of more than 16 points over both Tennell and Bell.[43][44][45] Skating last and immediately after Mariah Bell's "elegant, near flawless performance" to k.d. lang's version of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah",[45] Liu won the free skate by over eight points, with a score of 160.12, which was her career-best, and 235.52 points overall.[45] Her final score was over 10 points higher than Bell's, who came in second place, and just under 15 points over Tennell's, who came in third.[45] Although she failed to be the first woman at U.S. Nationals to successfully complete a quadruple Lutz, which was called under-rotated and received negative grade of execution scores, her "triple Axels were solid, and her final two spins were of surpassing quality".[45] She landed two triple Axels in the first 65 seconds of her program, and then completed six more triple jumps.[46] Liu told reporters afterwards, "This year I’m thinking, it’s a new decade, like, wow, what a good start!"[47] At the age of 14, Liu's win made her the youngest two-time women's U.S. champion and the first woman in seven years to win back-to-back U.S. championships, since Ashley Wagner in 2012 and 2013 and since Michelle Kwan won 8 consequence titles. Bell and Tennell assisted Liu to the top tier of the podium during the awards ceremony, recreating what they did the previous year.[46][45] Liu was age-ineligible to compete in international senior-level competitions, but was named to the 2020 World Junior Championships team, alongside Starr Andrews and Lindsay Thorngren.[45][48]

Liu came into her first World Junior Championships ranked third in the world among juniors; ultimately, she placed third, behind Valieva and Usacheva.[49][50] She came in fourth after her short program; according to ESPN, she did not "skate nearly as well at the past two national championships",[51] and lost points for an under-rotation and negative grade of execution, but she successfully completed a triple Axel-triple toe loop combination jump, earning 67.52 points.[51][52] In her solid long program,[49] Liu earned the second-highest technical score, with 137.31 points, came in third place in the long program, and earned a cumulative score of 204.83 points. She under-rotated her opening triple Axel and fell on her quadruple Lutz, but successfully landed a triple Axel and six more triple jumps, and earned level-four spins and footwork.[50][53]

On June 22, 2020, Liu announced that she was leaving longtime coach Laura Lipetsky and that she had hired coaches Lori Nichol and Massimo Scali, who she started working with in 2019, as well as Lee Barkell.[31][1] Liu plans to remain based in Oakland, California in the Bay Area, where Scali primarily works, while communicating with Nichol and Barkell via online video conferencing and occasionally traveling to their base in Toronto, Canada.[54]

2020–21 season[edit]

Liu had limited international competition opportunities after the 2020–21 ISU Junior Grand Prix was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and she was age-ineligible for senior Grand Prix competitions. While struggling with her jumps due to a growth spurt, she placed fourth in the domestic ISP Points Challenge behind Mariah Bell, Bradie Tennell, and Amber Glenn.[9] In October, Liu was invited to the 2020 Las Vegas Invitational, a domestic competition sponsored by U.S. Figure Skating, as part of Team Johnny. She finished sixth individually and the team finished second behind Team Tara.[55] Liu was unable to compete at full strength during the event after a fall on her triple Axel in practice led to a right hip injury. She was able to recover after forgoing triple jumps for about a month.[56]

On December 11, 2020, Liu announced the addition of former four-time US men's champion Jeremy Abbott to her coaching team.[2]

In January, Liu competed at the 2021 U.S. Championships in Las Vegas. Her difficulties at earlier competitions had raised doubts as to how she would perform at the event, particularly as she would not attempt a triple Axel or a quad in the competition.[2] To the surprise of many, she placed second in the short program with a clean skate.[57] In the free skate she doubled one jump and underrotated two others, placing fourth in that segment and dropping to fourth overall, winning the pewter medal. Liu said afterward that she has already resumed training one of her more difficult ultra-c elements, the triple axel, as of December 2020, and will try to resume training the other difficult elements in preparation for the next season.[58]

In an Instagram story on June 19, 2021, Liu posted a combined, side-by-side video of her doing a triple axel and a quad lutz attempt in training, as the 2021-22’ season approaches her.


Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
  • TBA
  • TBA

Records and achievements[edit]

  • Second female skater to land a quadruple Lutz at the 2019 JGP United States behind Alexandra Trusova.
  • First female skater to land a triple Axel and a quad in the same program (2019 JGP United States).
  • First female skater to land two triple Axel and a quad in the same program (2019 JGP Poland).
  • First American female skater to attempt multiple quad Lutzes & multiple triple Axels in one/the same program.
  • First American female skater to successfully land a quadruple Lutz.
  • Youngest ladies U.S. Figure Skating National Champion in 2019.

Competitive highlights[edit]

Liu (left) on the podium at the 2019–20 Junior Grand Prix Final with Kamila Valieva (center) and Daria Usacheva (right).

GP: Grand Prix; JGP: Junior Grand Prix. Pewter medals (4th place) awarded only at U.S. national, sectional, and regional events.

Event 17–18 18–19 19–20 20–21 21–22
GP Skate Canada TBD
International: Junior
Junior Worlds 3rd
JGP Final 2nd
JGP Poland 1st
JGP U.S. 1st
International: Advanced novice
Asian Trophy 2nd 1st
Challenge Cup 2nd
U.S. Champ. 1st J 1st 1st 4th
Pacific Coast 1st J 1st
Central Pacific 1st J 1st
ISP Points Chall. 4th
TBD = Assigned; WD = Withdrew
Levels: J = Junior

Detailed results[edit]

2020–21 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
January 11–21, 2021 2021 U.S. Championships Senior 2
2019–20 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
March 2–8, 2020 2020 World Junior Championships Junior 4
January 20–26, 2020 2020 U.S. Championships Senior 2
December 5–8, 2019 2019–20 Junior Grand Prix Final Junior 1
September 18–21, 2019 2019 JGP Poland Junior 4
August 28–31, 2019 2019 JGP United States Junior 1
2018–19 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
January 19–27, 2019 2019 U.S. Championships Senior 2
August 1–5, 2018 2018 Asian Figure Skating Trophy Adv. novice 1
2017–18 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
February 22–25, 2018 2018 International Challenge Cup Adv. novice 1
Dec. 29, 2017 – Jan. 8, 2018 2018 U.S. Championships Junior 1
September 13–17, 2017 2017 Novice and Junior Challenge Skate Junior 3
August 2–5, 2017 2017 Asian Figure Skating Trophy Adv. novice 3
2016–17 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
January 14–22, 2017 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Novice 1
September 14–18, 2016 2016 Novice and Junior Challenge Skate Novice 5
2015–16 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
January 15–24, 2016 2016 U.S. Championships Intermediate 1


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Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]