DETROIT (AP) – Alysa Liu was already a phenom. Now she is a national champion at the age of 13.
Liu stole the show Friday night, breezing through a free skate that included two triple axles and dethroning 201
"I was just glad I beat my personal record and I made it a purely long program," Liu said.
Liu had already landed a triple shaft in the short program Thursday, and she was in second place behind Tennell into Friday. Tennell fell under his long program, and Liu, who skates immediately, grabbed the opportunity. Her first triple shaft was in combination with a double loop. Then she landed another triple axle and when she completed her performance – set to "Witches of Eastwick" by John Williams – she beamed.
Tara Lipinski was the youngest female master of citizens after winning 14 years in 1997, and Scott Allen was also 14 when he won in 1964. Now a commentator with NBC was Lipinski there Friday when her record fell.
"Records are made to be broken," Lipinski said later. "It is an honor that she is the one who does it. What a phenomenal talent."
Earlier on Friday, Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue took a step towards defending their ice dance title and ending at the top of the rally dance. Hubbell and Donohue will compete for their second straight national free dance championship Saturday.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates were second after the rallying followed by Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker.
The Ice Dance Competition was one of the most anticipated events of the week, partly because the top teams have plenty of ties to Michigan. Hubbell was born in Michigan, and she and Donohue used to train there. Shock and Bates are also from Michigan.
The two teams are now training in Montreal under the same coaches – with Hawayek and Baker there as well.
"We are very fortunate that we train with the best in the world," donohue said. "We push each other … We have such a unique and 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 lacking it for various reasons. Now Liu looks as if she could give a boost to American skating. The United States has not won an Olympic medal in women's skating since 2006.
"To deal with the pressure she did and to push the technical envelope as far as she pushes it at such a young age, it really is the mind blowing," Lipinski. "I think she is the future of American lady figure skating."
US citizens are being held in Detroit for the first time in 25 years. The 1994 event was best remembered for the attack on Nancy Kerrigan after an exercise, but there was a 13-year-old who also shone the same year – Michelle Kwan, who finished second.
The 4-foot, 7-inch Liu had already turned his head in August when she became the youngest woman to land a triple axle in international competition. On Friday she showed poise and ability at a big stage, although the international star shape might have to wait a little. During the current age restriction, she is not even entitled to compete in worlds until 2022.
"I'm not too worried about that," Liu said. "Because I get more time to work on my jumps, skating skills, spins and just trying to learn more."
Liu got 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 under her routine.
Tennell went out of a triple loop in a combination early in her program and she fell and tried a triple lutz.
"It was obviously not my best skate, and I'm disappointed," Tennell said. "There's always something to be learned from skating like this, so I'm excited to come home and work harder than ever to solve what I was doing wrong."
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