Alysa Liu to make debut in Canada and more notes on figure skating Grand Prix season assignments

U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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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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Summer McIntosh breaks 400m individual medley world record, extends historic week

Summer McIntosh

Canadian swimmer Summer McIntosh broke her second world record this week, lowering the 400m individual medley mark on Saturday.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old who trains in Sarasota, Florida, clocked 4 minutes, 25.87 seconds at the Canadian Championships in Toronto.

She took down Hungarian Katinka Hosszu‘s world record of 4:26.36 from the 2016 Rio Olympics. Before Saturday, McIntosh had the fourth-fastest time in history of 4:28.61.

“It’s always nice to set world records,” McIntosh said.

On Tuesday, McIntosh broke the 400m freestyle world record, becoming the youngest swimmer to break a world record in an individual Olympic event since Katie Ledecky in 2013.

McIntosh also this week became the fourth-fastest woman in history in the 200m individual medley and the eighth-fastest woman in history in the 200m butterfly.

In each of her four races this week, she also broke the world junior record as the fastest woman in history under the age of 19.

She is entered to swim the 200m free on the meet’s final day on Sunday. She is already the eighth-fastest woman in history in that event.

McIntosh, whose mom swam the 1984 Olympic 200m fly and whose sister competed at last week’s world figure skating championships, placed fourth in the Tokyo Olympic 400m free at age 14.

Last summer, she won the 200m fly and 400m IM at the world championships, becoming the youngest individual world champion since 2011.

This summer, she could be at the center of a showdown in the 400m free at the world championships with reigning world champion Ledecky and reigning Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus of Australia. They are the three fastest women in history in the event.

Around age 7, McIntosh transcribed Ledecky quotes and put them on her wall.

MORE: McIntosh chose swimming and became Canada’s big splash

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Hilary Knight leads new-look U.S. women’s hockey roster for world championship

Hilary Knight

Hilary Knight headlines a U.S. women’s hockey roster for this month’s world championship that lacks some of the biggest names from last year’s Olympic silver-medal team. Changes have been made as the U.S. looks to end losing streaks to Canada, both overall and in major finals.

The full roster is here. Worlds start Wednesday in Brampton, Ontario, and run through the gold-medal game on April 16.

It was already known that the team would be without stalwart forwards Kendall Coyne Schofield, who plans to return to the national team after having her first child this summer, and Brianna Decker, who announced her retirement last month.

Notable cuts include the No. 1 goalies from the last two Olympics: Alex Cavallini, who returned from Christmas childbirth for the tryout camp this past week, and Maddie Rooney, the breakout of the 2018 Olympic champion team.

Cavallini, 31, was bidding to become the first player to make an Olympic or world team after childbirth since Jenny Potter, who played at the Olympics in 2002, 2006 and 2010 as a mom, plus at several world championships, including less than three months after childbirth in 2007.

Forward Hannah Brandt, who played on the top line at last year’s Olympics with Knight and Coyne Schofield, also didn’t make the team.

In all, 13 of the 25 players on the team are Olympians, including three-time Olympic medalists forward Amanda Kessel and defender Lee Stecklein.

The next generation includes forward Taylor Heise, 23, who led the 2022 World Championship with seven goals and was the 2022 NCAA Player of the Year at Minnesota.

The team includes two teens — 19-year-old defender Haley Winn and 18-year-old forward Tessa Janecke — who were also the only teens at last week’s 46-player tryout camp. Janecke, a Penn State freshman, is set to become the youngest U.S. forward to play at an Olympics or worlds since Brandt in 2012.

Abbey Levy, a 6-foot-1 goalie from Boston College, made her first world team, joining veterans Nicole Hensley and Aerin Frankel.

Last summer, Canada repeated as world champion by beating the U.S. in the final, six months after beating the U.S. in the Olympic final. Canada is on its longest global title streak since winning all five Olympic or world titles between 1999 and 2004.

Also at last summer’s worlds, the 33-year-old Knight broke the career world championship record for points (now up to 89). She also has the most goals in world championship history (53). Knight, already the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s hockey player in history, will become the second-oldest American to play at a worlds after Cammi Granato, who was 34 at her last worlds in 2005.

The Canadians are on a four-game win streak versus the Americans, capping a comeback in their recent seven-game rivalry series from down three games to none. Their 5-0 win in the decider in February was their largest margin of victory over the U.S. since 2005.

Last May, former AHL coach John Wroblewski was named U.S. head coach to succeed Joel Johnson, the Olympic coach.

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