Figure skating: Liu defends U.S.
title with flawless free skate
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[January 25, 2020]
(Reuters) - Alysa Liu
successfully defended her women's title at the U.S. Figure Staking
Championships in North Carolina on Friday after the 14-year-old
delivered a brilliant free skate routine.
Liu won by a runaway 10 points over Mariah Bell with a performance
that stamped her as one of America's biggest hopes heading toward
the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Liu, skating to Illumination by Jennifer Thomas, landed two triple
Axels and a quad Lutz to impress the judges, who gave her a score of
160.12 for a 235.52 points total including the short program.
Bell finished second on 225.21 while Bradie Tennell, the 2018
champion who led after the short program, had a fall and dropped to
"I didn't really expect any result, like first, second or third,"
said Liu. "I just wanted to skate a clean program, that's always my
goal. I always want to do better than before."
Liu said she knew she needed a strong showing to surpass Bell.
"I was kind of inspired by her emotion and happiness. It inspired me
at the end of my program to relaxed and be happy and aware of the
Some of the biggest cheers of the night were reserved for Olympic
bronze medalist Gracie Gold, competing in her first nationals for
three years after dealing with depression and an eating disorder.
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Alysa Liu poses withe her medal after winning the Senior Ladies Free
Skate at Greensboro Coliseum Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA
Gold, who finished 12th, received a standing ovation after her
routine, and the 24-year-old wiped away tears as the crowd rose to
"I felt very emotional when the crowd stood up, and then they kept
standing long after what that performance warranted," said Gold.
"I felt emotional before I even started because the sound the
audience made. It was kind of strange. I've had excited cheers, but
never the full arena pulling for my existence on the ice."
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter
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