Alysa Liu took home the top prize for women at the U.S. Figure Skating Championship in Detroit on Friday — making history as the youngest champion ever

By Maura Hohman
January 28, 2019 01:34 PM
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Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Alysa Liu took home the top prize for women at the U.S. Figure Skating Championship in Detroit on Friday — making history as the youngest champion ever, multiple outlets have confirmed.

The 13-year-old from Northern California beat the year’s previous winner, Bradie Tennell, for first place. In fact, Tennell, 20, had to help the teen climb onto the 2-foot, first place podium because she’s only 4 feet and 7 inches tall, according to USA Today. The bronze went to Mariah Bell, 22.

During her routine, Liu landed two triple axels. She’s only the fourth American female to land a triple axel in competition, after Tonya Harding in 1991, Kimmie Meissner in 2005 and Mirai Nagasu at the Olympics in 2018. She’s the first to make two.

Alysa Liu, Bradie Tennell and Mariah Bell
| Credit: Paul Sancya/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Alysa Liu
| Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After the competition, reporters asked the young skater what was running through her head once she successfully completed the first axel.

“I still have the second one,” she responded. And after the second, she thought, “I still have every other jump to do in the program.”

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“I was just happy that I beat my personal record, and I did a clean long program,” Liu told reporters, according to ESPN.

Alysa Liu
| Credit: Paul Sancya/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Before Liu, Tara Lipinski held the record for the youngest U.S. women’s champion. She won at age 14. The athlete was a commentator during the event, and told viewers, “Records are made to be broken … It is quite an honor that she is the one to do it. What a phenomenal talent,” according to ESPN.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Liu is too young to compete in the next few world championships, which have a minimum entry age of 15, but she will be 16 when the 2022 Olympics roll around. It’s perfect timing as the U.S. hasn’t clinched an Olympic medal in women’s figure skating since 2006.