The time has finally arrived for Alysa Liu’s senior international debut.
Liu made her presence known as one of the top American figure skaters when she won the 2019 U.S. title at just 13 years old – the youngest woman to do so – but it would be another 30-plus months until she was age eligible to compete against the world’s best.
The International Skating Union announced the Grand Prix assignments for the 2021-22 figure skating season on Tuesday and it is now known that Liu will make her senior Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada, Oct. 29-31 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and later travel to Tokyo for NHK Trophy, Nov. 12-14.
The season begins with Skate America, as it traditionally has, held for the third year running at Las Vegas’ Orleans Arena.
Out of the 12 American skaters with previous Olympic experience who are still active and hope to return to that stage in Beijing just four months later, eight of them are entered in Vegas.
The decorated list of U.S. entries includes all four reigning national champions: Bradie Tennell, Nathan Chen, pairs’ team Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, and ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, plus 2021 U.S. silver medalist Amber Glenn, 2019 World bronze medalist Vincent Zhou and nine-time U.S. ice dance medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
Three-time world champion Chen has won Skate America four times. Tennell, Glenn and a to-be-announced third U.S. woman will face stiff competition from 2021 World bronze medalist Aleksandra Trusova, who was part of a Russian sweep in March. Newly formed U.S. pair Chelsea Liu and Danny O’Shea will make their Grand Prix debut in Vegas.
Alysa Liu is joined at her first Grand Prix by Karen Chen in a field that includes a Russian bloc of 2021 World silver medalist Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva, 2019 Grand Prix Final victor Aliona Kostornaya and first-year senior Kamila Valiyeva. 2014 Olympian Jason Brown and Nathan Chen, notably for the first time in his career, are also competing at Skate Canada.
The Canadian pairs’ team of Vanessa James and Eric Radford, both accomplished skaters with different partners – and for James a different country, will also debut in Vancouver.
The series continues with Cup of China, Nov. 5-7 in Chongqing, where France’s four-time ice dance world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron return to the ice after not competing last season due to the pandemic; they are joined by training mates Hubbell and Donohue, who have not competed at Cup of China in their previous 10 seasons together. Tennell is entered in the women’s field against reigning world champion Anna Shcherbakova. Two-time world pairs’ champions and home country favorites Sui Wenjing and Han Cong are likely to win the event for the third time.
Liu and Glenn will contend against Trusova and Japan’s Rika Kihira and Kaori Sakamoto at NHK Trophy. 2021 World ice dance champions Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia will present a challenge for Chock and Bates, appearing there for the first time, and three-time U.S. bronze medalists Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Decorated former men’s skater Daisuke Takahashi is also entered with his ice dance partner, Kana Muramoto. Two of Russia’s top pairs’ teams will meet in Tokyo: Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, and Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov. Two-time Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu is favored to win his fifth NHK Trophy title.
The penultimate stop, in Grenoble, France, is highlighted by Papadakis and Cizeron, and 2021 World bronze medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada in ice dance; Russia’s 2021 World bronze medalists Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy, and James and Radford in pairs; Shcherbakova and 2020 Skate America gold medalist Mariah Bell in women’s; and Brown and Japan’s 2021 World silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama for the men.
Prior to the Dec. 9-12 final in Osaka, Japan, the series comes to a close with the Russia Grand Prix in Sochi. The site of the 2014 Winter Olympics will be highlighted by ice dance world champions Sinitsina and Katsalapov and pairs’ world champions Mishina and Galliamov.
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