Alysa Liu

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Alysa Liu rallies at world junior figure skating championships, earns medal

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U.S. figure skating champion Alysa Liu earned a medal in her junior world championships debut, taking bronze in Tallinn, Estonia, on Saturday.

Liu, 14, improved from fourth after Friday’s short program by landing two triple Axels in her free skate, totaling 204.83 points. Liu also fell on a quadruple Lutz attempt.

“I was very happy with my placement,” Liu said, according to the International Skating Union. “I don’t think the short program placement should affect how you skate in the free program. I think I kind of left it behind, it already happened and I can’t undo what happened so just skated my free skate,”

Russian Kamila Valiyeva won with a pair of quad toe loops in her free skate. The 13-year-old Valieva’s total score — 227.30 — ranks her fifth in the world this season among junior and senior skaters. A Russian has won nine of the last 10 junior world titles.

Liu, who in 2019 became the youngest senior national champion in history (and repeated in January), is the second U.S. woman to earn a junior worlds medal since Gracie Gold‘s silver in 2012. Ting Cui ended a six-year drought with a bronze in 2019.

This marks the last major competition for Liu this season. She will become eligible for major senior international events in the 2022 Olympic season.

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As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Alysa Liu near medal position after junior figure skating worlds short program

Alysa Liu
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Alysa Liu, the 14-year-old, two-time U.S. senior champion figure skater, is in fourth place after the world junior championships short program.

Liu, the world’s third-ranked junior skater this season, landed a triple Axel-triple toe loop combination to highlight her skate in Tallinn, Estonia, but was dinged for an under-rotation and negative grade of execution.

Russian Kamila Valiyeva led with 74.92 points, followed by South Korean Haein Lee (70.08) and Russian Daria Usacheva (68.45). Liu tallied 67.52 as the only woman in the field to attempt a triple Axel, the most difficult jump that can be scored in a women’s short program.

The free skate is Saturday, streamed on the International Skating Union YouTube channel.

Liu is making her junior worlds debut. She will not be old enough for senior worlds until the 2022 Olympic season.

Liu nearly went perfect in the fall Junior Grand Prix season, taking two golds and then a silver at the Junior Grand Prix Final behind Valiyeva.

She attempted a historic set of jumps in the Junior Grand Prix Final free skate — two triple Axels and two quadruple Lutzes. Quads are allowed in women’s free skates but not the short program. She fell on the first Axel, and the other three landings were judged as under-rotated.

Last year, Ting Cui became the first U.S. woman to earn a junior worlds medal (bronze) since Gracie Gold‘s silver in 2012. The last U.S. woman to win a junior worlds was Rachael Flatt in 2008. Since, Russians won nine of the 11 crowns.

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MORE: Sochi Olympic figure skating champion retires

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Alysa Liu, after pulling an all-nighter at nationals, readies for world junior figure skating championships

Alysa Liu
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Alysa Liu stayed up until 7 a.m. the night after winning her second consecutive U.S. title in January. Not because she was celebrating – the 14-year-old had homework.

She stayed up until 4 a.m. the following night thinking her additional homework would be a breeze, but it was much more challenging than she expected. Unlike winning her second national title, she told media.

“It’s different because it’s my second time around at senior nationals,” Liu told NBCSports.com. “But still just as exciting.”

She finished algebra and biology before the championships, but there was one subject that she put off. For help staying awake through the nights, she chatted on the phone with a friend back home in California.

While in Greensboro, the Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist spoke with members of the media about looking ahead to the junior world championships.

The event takes place this weekend in Tallinn, Estonia and will stream live on the ISU YouTube page. The women’s short program begins Friday at 3:45 a.m. ET, and the free skate is Saturday.

This conversation has been edited for clarity.

Why did you stay up so late?

Liu: My Chinese homework’s pretty hard. Each lesson consists of two to four essays that I have to write. Took a while. But the last one had two essays and two tests. I had a total of seven essays to write – in Chinese – and then I had to do four quizzes and four tests.

Is that normal for you?

Liu: I don’t think I’ve ever stayed up that … early, I guess. It’s not staying up late. It’s staying up early! I think I only stayed up until 2 a.m. before, on New Year’s.

What’s your favorite class?

Liu: I would say Chinese, but it’s so hard. I’m good at it. I’m OK at it. I used to be fluent in Chinese when I was younger – like really fluent. I keep opening my notebooks from first and second grade. I’m like, how did I get almost all of this? I can understand everything, basically, and speak it. My accent’s not good at all. I can read and write some, still working on that.

Then I stopped for five years. I did seven years of Chinese school, about, and then stopped for five years and I’m doing it again. I’m very slow at writing in Chinese. I’m like, wait, is that stroke supposed to be there? Nope.

So, it’s rusty but it’s coming back.

Liu: Some of my lessons and sessions I have to do, I have to do voice recordings. My teacher’s saying my pronunciation is good, and my dad [who is from China] is like, no, that’s not good at all![laughter]

Looking at junior worlds, you saw a lot of those skaters at the Junior Grand Prix Final. Are you taking any notes from that into this competition and, if so, what?

Liu: Yea, I guess. I really want to just focus on my programs. Try to do better than nationals at junior worlds … I don’t really think about the score, I just want to do a really good program.

Have you started thinking about music for next season? Since you now have kept the same short program for two seasons.

Liu: No, not yet, but I think soon though. … I really enjoy doing this short program. I’m not sick of it. It was actually my idea to keep it.

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As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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