Winning the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at thirteen


Competing in the 2019 Russian National Figure Skating Championships, fourteen-year-old Anna Shcherbakova won first place out of the eighteen competitors. Similarly, thirteen-year-old Alysa Liu won first out of seventeen in the 2019 United States National Figure Skating Championships.

Izzi Graham, Staff Reporter

Alysa Liu officially made history when she became the youngest skater to ever win first place at the United States Figure Skating Championships. At merely thirteen years old, Liu defeated the defending champion, Bradie Tennell, who placed second in this year’s championships. Seven years separate the two competitors in age, and 3.92 points in their final scores.

 Becoming the youngest United States champion was not the only record broken by Alysa Liu at the 2019 Figure Skating Championships. The thirteen-year-old was already the youngest female in the world to land a triple axel, a difficult jump involving three and a half rotations in the air. Alysa is only the fourth American female to land a triple axel in competition. However, Liu’s National’s performance featured not one, but two triple axels, an unprecedented accomplishment for any American female in one skate.

 Before Alysa Liu, Tara Lipinski held the title as the youngest American female figure skater to become the national champion after winning at age fourteen in 1997; one year later she became an Olympic gold medalist. Now working as a commentator for NBC at figure skating events, Lipinski was at the competition to see her record broken. Lipinski was amazed by Liu’s performance and held no resentment for losing her title, and even greeted Liu with a hug on the sideline of the rink.

 Defending national champion, Bradie Tennell took home the silver, and Mariah Bell, aged 22, scored third place. When it came time for the ceremony, both adults had to help Liu, standing only four feet seven inches tall, onto the nearly two-feet tall podium to receive her medal.

 Perhaps the most incredible part of the championships was the thirteen-year-old’s humbling reaction throughout the event. When Liu stepped off the ice after her performance, she was so relieved at having skated a clean program, she began to cry. Sitting in the kiss and cry, the place where skaters wait with their coaches to receive their scores, Alysa Liu smiled and waved at the cameras, still slightly overwhelmed by her performance. When her score for the long program was announced, a collective gasp was audible throughout the audience before they erupted into cheers.

 Alysa Liu mirrored this reaction as her score was read through the intercom, gasping and covering her mouth with her hands. Her shocked expression turned to delight when her total score for the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships was read aloud- 217.51.  A smile spread across her face before she collapsed into sobs of joy.

 Senior Alyssa Scinta, also a figure skater, summarized Alysa Liu’s performance at this year’s National Championships: “It’s crazy that such a young girl won a national championship. Not even that, but she broke the record of the youngest girl to ever land a triple axel in competition, and become the only American female to ever land two triple-axels in one program.”