You could tell how happy Alysa Liu was with her debut at the Beijing Olympics, executing a clean short program on Feb. 15 in the women’s figure skating competition. Her score of 69.50 landed her in eighth place ahead of the free skate in two days’ time. It was a beautiful performance from the 16-year-old set to “Don Quixote: Act II: Gypsy Dance II” by Ludwig Minkus, and though she chose to forgo her triple axel, she nailed the jumps she did include.
Liu, who had to petition for an Olympic team spot due to a positive COVID test that caused her to withdraw from the 2022 national championship, didn’t show any nerves during her high-energy short program in Beijing. Her routine just made you want to smile along with her, and it was a strong way to start off her Olympic appearance.
Liu’s joy was also a sight to see amid the tensions surrounding the Court of Arbitration For Sport’s controversial decision to let Russian skater Kamila Valieva compete despite a positive doping test. NBC commentators and former Olympians Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir noted during the live broadcast that Valieva’s presence on the ice tainted the integrity of the Olympic process and the women’s figure skating competition. Even with a bobble on her triple axel, Valieva sits in first place (82.16). The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that should she place on the podium once the free skate portion concludes, there would be no medal ceremony.
Over the weekend, Liu told Olympics.com, “My goal here is to stay in the moment and enjoy everything,” and it sure looks like she’s doing just that. American teammates Mariah Bell and Karen Chen both had falls in their performances and currently sit in 11th and 13th, respectively. Out of the 30 women who competed in the Feb. 15 short program competition, 25 qualified through to the Feb. 17 free skate; the IOC allowed one extra spot “for reasons of fairness” given Valieva’s inclusion in the event.
Ahead, check out snapshots of Liu’s shining Beijing 2022 short program. She can now call herself an Olympian!