Vincent Zhou and Alysa Liu Secure U.S. Figure Skating Places for Third Olympics

Vincent Zhou poses with his bronze medal after the men’s competition at the US Figure Skating Championships on January 17, 2021 in Las Vegas.

On Friday, Zhou landed four quadruple jumps in a near-clean exit from his “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” free skate, the same routine he hopes to perform at the Olympic Games in February. His total score, 284.23 points, topped the peloton by more than 40 points. Adam Siao Him Fa of France was second at 243.78.

“One of the best tools a skater can have is a great program,” Zhou said at the press conference following the free skate. “Coming back to this program has many advantages. # 1 … it was comfortable to skate right away. # 2, I know this is culturally appropriate for the city of the Olympics. It is also culturally appropriate for me, I understand Asian martial arts culture very well.

Zhou’s parents emigrated from China to the United States in 1992. The skater first used “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in the 2018-19 season, winning a world bronze medal. Originally choreographed by Jeffrey Buttle, Zhou and Lori Nichol of Toronto have revamped many of the steps and movements of the program in virtual workouts this spring and summer.

“We basically did a 2.0 on this program,” Zhou said. “We continue to work virtually to polish this program and make all the transitions much better and make my skating stronger, so that I can consistently get my components (artistic and presentation notes).”

The next competition scheduled for Zhou is Skate America, which will be held in Las Vegas from October 22-24. There he will face the three-time world champion Chen.

Two-time United States champion Liu (2019, 2020) won gold at Nebelhorn with 207.40 points, easily edging Poland’s Ekaterina Kurakova, who finished second at 193.58.

“It’s a lot, I still can’t understand how important it is,” Liu said while making sure the United States has three Olympic spots. “I am really honored to have been chosen for this competition.

Born August 8, 2005, Liu – who won her first American title at age 13, the youngest woman of all time – is in her first season in international competition. Now 16, she is eligible for the Beijing Olympics.

Nebelhorn is already his third international victory this season. Like Zhou, she won the Cranberry Cup in August, beating 2020 U.S. silver medalist Mariah Bell in the process. Just two weeks ago, Liu won gold at the Lombardia Trophy in Bergamo, Italy. The Northern California native usually trains in Oakland, but prepared for Nebelhorn on an ice rink in Egna, Italy.

Alysa Liu performs in the skating spectacular at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on January 17, 2021 in Las Vegas.

On Saturday, performing his free skate on a Tchaikovsky violin concerto, Liu reduced his opening attempt from a triple axel to a single. After that, the navigation went smoothly. She landed seven triple jumps, including a difficult triple lutz-triple toe loop combination, while showing a much more mature and elegant style than before.

“The skating went pretty well today, I’m pretty happy,” said Liu. “I skipped my triple axis, but I’m going to work hard in training so that it doesn’t happen.”

The 3½-lap jump, with her base value of eight points, played a big part in the young skater’s two American titles, leading her to victories over more experienced competitors such as Bell and two-time American champion Bradie Tennell. . Liu will need them later this season to effectively face a team of young Russians who regularly include triple axels and quads in their schedules.

Liu’s coach, three-time United States champion Jeremy Abbott, confirms jumping is a priority in plans this season.

“The triple axis has been a big part of the daily training,” said Abbott, who coaches Liu alongside head coach Massimo Scali and Lorenzo Magri. “She is able to put it down every day (in practice). Now we are working to make it as clean and consistent as its other elements. “

Liu is scheduled to compete in his first Senior Grand Prix, Skate Canada, in Vancouver from October 29-31.

“As Skate Canada approaches, the goal is to add the triple axel to the short program and continue to refine and expand the artistic side of its skating,” said Abbott. “(We want to) add more level of performance and maximize points in every aspect of his skating.”

This is the first season Team USA has had to compete at Nebelhorn to secure three Olympic Games entries. A new rule from the International Skating Union states that in order to earn three places at the world championships, three skaters or teams must perform the free skate at the world championships. Previously, it was sufficient for the top two skaters or teams at the World Championships to have field placements totaling 13 or less.

So although Team USA’s Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell placed fourth and ninth respectively at the 2021 World Championships, a third American had to compete at Nebelhorn and finish in the top six. And although Nathan Chen and Jason Brown finished first and seventh at the world championships last season, since Zhou did not qualify for the free skate, an American had to earn third place at Nebelhorn by placing in the top seven. first.

Based on the results at Nebelhorn, plus those from the world championships, the United States team will send three women, three men, three ice dance teams and two pairs to Beijing. The United States will also be one of 10 countries to compete in the figure skating team event.


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