Alysa Liu skates during the women single skating short program during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 15, 2022 in Beijing.
BEIJING — Whatever placement Alysa Liu achieves at these Olympic Winter Games, the 16-year-old has made up her mind: she is going to have the time of her young life.
“I’m really excited, I’m really happy with how I did,” a bubbly Liu said Tuesday, after placing eighth in the figure skating women’s short program at Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium.
“I’m glad I did a clean short program,” she added. “I would also be fine if I didn’t do a clean short program, but I’m glad I did a clean short program.”
The teen from Richmond, California, had a speedy performance to “Gypsy Dance” from the ballet “Don Quixote,” opening with a strong double axel, followed by a triple flip and triple lutz, triple toe loop combination.
The high points of the program were its final three elements, two fast spins and a musical step sequence, and Liu scored 69.50 points.
But marks are not uppermost on the skater’s mind. After a stressful few months — including a coaching change, a move to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a positive COVID-19 test that forced her to withdraw from the 2022 U.S. championships — Liu is accentuating the positive.
“Personally, I thought with COVID and everything, I would just be in my room, but that’s not the case,” she said. “I’m really glad. And there’s a mall (in the Olympic Village), I didn’t know that. So, I’m really just having fun. I get to see my friends and meet new people.”
Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee earned 82.16 points for first place. Her ROC teammate Anna Shcherbakova is second with 80.20, while Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto is third at 79.84. Fellow U.S. skaters Mariah Bell (65.38 points) and Karen Chen (64.11) ranked 11th and 13th, respectively.
The event concludes with the free skate on Thursday.
Liu didn’t try a triple axel, the jump she used to win her U.S. titles in 2019 and 2020, on Tuesday. Six skaters did, but only one (Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi, who sits fifth) landed the three-and-a half revolution jump cleanly. While Liu has tried triple axel this season — her first on the international senior circuit — she has yet to land it with no deductions.
“Hopefully, I will do it in the free skate, I’ve been practicing it in the free program,” she said. “It feels pretty good, I’d say. Obviously, it isn’t perfect, but nothing is ever perfect, so I’ll just go with it.”
These days, triple axels and quadruple jumps are most often associated with Russian skaters, including Valieva, Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova, who is fourth after the short program. But Liu is the first woman to ever execute both a triple axel and a quad — in her case, a lutz — in the same program, a feat she accomplished at the Lake Placid Junior Grand Prix in August 2019. She does not plan to try the quad here.
“It was a lot easier when I was smaller, and a lot shorter,” Liu, who now stands about 5 feet, 2 inches, said of the quad. “It’s just been harder. Especially when COVID hit, I couldn’t train it as much. I stopped training it for a period. So, there was a lot of other factors, but definitely puberty (was one factor).”
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Beijing 2022? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Olympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.