Alysa Liu leaves Las Vegas without U.S. figure skating title, but full of optimism


Alysa Liu arrived at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Las Vegas as a two-time and reigning national champion with a lot of buzz, much of it the wrong kind.

She leaves without the title but with something that may prove just as important: an undiminished love of skating and competition.

“I didn’t expect much from myself, I expected the bare minimum, with how everything was going,” the 15-year-old told reporters after her fourth-place finish Saturday night. “And I’m definitely really happy with coming here and having this competition still go on. I was really grateful to compete again because I love competing. I like the feel of it.”

Liu may have ramped down her expectations, but her coach, Massimo Scali, came to Las Vegas with a loftier objective.

“The only goal we had for this competition was to perform and show an Alysa that is confident, and gorgeous, and with beautiful new qualities that no one ever saw before, that could prove to herself she is capable of anything,” Scali said.

A six-time Italian ice dance champion (with partner Federica Faiella), Scali’s English is a bit florid, but his words ring true.

Liu, who many expected to struggle at these U.S. Championships, instead showed maturing expression, speed and some solid triple jumps, including her triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination.

The teen from Richmond, California, fought off the challenges of a growth spurt, coaching changes, severely limited ice time and a hip injury in the last year to skate a clean, second-place short program and finish just 1.59 points behind bronze medalist Karen Chen.


It was far more than most expected. At the Las Vegas Invitational, a free skate-only team event in late October, Liu showed mostly double jumps. Later, she revealed a hip injury sustained during the event prevented her from training her triple jumps for several weeks this fall.

The injury was just the most recent of Liu’s trials. She has grown, she estimates, about three inches over the past year. In June, it was announced she parted company with lifelong coach Laura Lipetsky, who nurtured the triple Axel that led her to her two U.S. titles. The Covid-19 pandemic canceled plans to work full-time with Toronto-based Lee Barkell and Lori Nichol.

Even before that, with Bay Area rinks closed, Liu spent much of last spring off ice.

“I just stayed inside in my best friend’s house and just hung out every day,” she said. “That was fun, but obviously I didn’t skate, so I was like, ‘This was a little strange.’”

Eventually, Liu traveled to Delaware for ice, returning to California when homesickness proved hard to bear. At the beginning of last summer, she began working in earnest with Scali, although conditions were still restrictive at her home rink in Oakland. The duo also sought ice time in San Francisco and held zoom sessions with Barkell and Nichol.

“I introduced her to ballet, to Pilates, we do yoga once a week,” Scali said. “We are using my experience as a dancer in my life to transfer everything I know to bring her knowledge of her movement and passion and feelings on the ice, to really the highest level.”

The 41-year-old Scali, who retired from competition in 2011, began his coaching career in Michigan. At different times, he helped to train Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

His specialties – skating skills, steps, performance quality, musical expression – were evident in Liu’s skating this week, particularly in her short program, choreographed by Nichol to music from “La Strada.”

“[We have] been working a lot on skating skills every day in practice and working on the choreography of the program, especially when I had my injury,” Liu said. “We especially worked on facial expressions in each part of the choreography. There is one part where I’m surprised or happy, and we worked a lot on that.”

Jeremy Abbott, the four-time U.S. champion, joined the team full-time, lending technical expertise to Liu’s jumps and spins as well as her overall performance.

“He is part of the team, and he is with us every single day,” said Scali. “In Oakland, there is also Phillip DeGuglielmo, who is mainly helping her with the [pole] harness to restart the big jumps.”

With the world junior championships canceled due to Covid-19, Liu is focused on next season, when she will finally be age-eligible to compete at senior international events.

She resumed training the triple Axel, at first working with DeGuglielmo on the harness but quickly progressing to on her own. Quadruple jumps, including the quad Lutz she landed last season, are next on the agenda.

“It actually didn’t take that long to land (triple Axel) again, probably because of muscle memory,” Liu said. “I didn’t train it a lot because we weren’t planning to incorporate it here because it was too close to nationals, and it still needed to get consistent, obviously.”

“We want to break back the big jumps, of course, better than before,” Scali said.

Assuming sporting events resume later this year, Liu – who turns 16 on Aug. 8 — will likely compete on the fall Grand Prix circuit. Scali made clear that the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are very much on the radar.

“Definitely I told her about my experience with the Olympics [2002, 2006 and 2010], how exciting and how beautiful and unique that experience is,” he said. “When I first met her, I saw so much in her. The goal is to bring everything out, and she has so much to offer.”

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Canada wins men’s hockey world title; Latvia wins first medal

IIHF Hockey World Championship

TAMPERE, Finland — Samuel Blais scored two goals to rally Canada to a 5-2 victory over Germany in the final of the world men’s hockey championship on Sunday.

It’s a record 28th world title for Canada, and its second in three years. Russia has 27 while Germany has never won the trophy.

Blais netted with a backhand 4:51 into the final period for a 3-2 lead for Canada, which was playing in its fourth straight final.

“It feels really good,” Blais said. “We’ve been in Europe for a month and we’ve all waited for that moment to play for the gold medal game. And we’re lucky enough to have won it.”

Lawson Crouse, Tyler Toffoli and Scott Laughton also scored for Canada, Peyton Krebs had two assists and goaltender Samuel Montembeault stopped 21 shots.

Toffoli stretched the lead to 4-2 from the left circle with 8:09 remaining and Laughton made it 5-2 with an empty net goal.

Adam Fantilli became only the second Canadian player after Jonathan Toews to win gold at the world juniors and world championship the same year.

Canada had to come back twice in the final.

John Peterka wristed a shot past Montembeault from the left circle 7:44 into the game. It was the sixth goal for the Buffalo Sabres forward at the tournament.

Blais was fed by Krebs to beat goaltender Mathias Niederberger and tie it 1-1 at 10:47.

Daniel Fischbuch put the Germans ahead again with a one-timer with 6:13 to go in the middle period.

Crouse equalized on a power play with 2:32 remaining in the frame.

It was the first medal for Germany since 1953 when it was second behind Sweden.

The two previously met just once in the final with Canada winning 6-1 in 1930.


Defenseman Kristian Rubins scored his second goal 1:22 into overtime to lead Latvia to a 4-3 victory over the United States and earn a bronze medal earlier Sunday.

It’s the first top-three finish for Latvia at the tournament. Its previous best was a seventh place it managed three times.

The U.S. lost in the bronze medal game for the second straight year. The U.S. team was cruising through the tournament with eight straight wins until it was defeated by Germany in the semifinal 4-3 in overtime.

Rubins rallied Latvia with his first with 5:39 to go in the final period to tie the game at 3 to force overtime.

Roberts Bukarts and Janis Jaks also scored for Latvia.

Rocco Grimaldi scored twice for the U.S. in the opening period to negate Latvia’s 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

Matt Coronato had put the U.S. 3-2 ahead 6:19 into the final period.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw