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Liu makes history in Lake Placid

September 6, 2019
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Four revolutions, and it looked effortless.

For 14-year-old U.S. champion Alysa Liu, it was just another day at the office when she became the first United States woman to land the quadruple lutz jump in competition at the 2019 Junior Grand Prix Lake Placid ladies free skate on Saturday, Aug. 31. She also became the first female skater to land a triple axel and a quadruple jump in one program.

Liu made headlines landing the quad lutz several days before at the Aurora Games in Albany, but it was at an unsanctioned sports festival, meaning it was not officially recognized. However, when Liu landed the jump in her free skate in Lake Placid, she cemented the achievement in the record books.

Article Photos

Alysa Liu, a 14-year-old United States senior champion, competes in the Junior Grand Prix event at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid on Saturday, Aug. 31. She became the first American woman to land a quadruple lutz during the free skate competition.
Provided photo — Christie Sausa

Indeed, the future of international skating talent was on full display at the Olympic Center Aug. 28-31, when the Junior Grand Prix made Lake Placid its second stop this season. Perhaps no star shined as brightly as Liu, who has been anointed the next great hope for ladies figure skating in the United States.

Easily winning the JGP title with an overall score of 208.10, which was more than 20 points greater than silver medalist Park Yeonjeong of South Korea, Liu uncharacteristically fell on the second triple axel. However, her technical scores and top marks on spins were able to keep her on top of the podium, after she won the short program as well on Friday, Aug. 30.

Despite her great achievements so far, Liu remained charming and down-to-earth, seemingly unfazed by her increasing profile in the sport.

"It's pretty cool," she said of her quad lutz accomplishment, "(but) I don't obsess."

This was Liu's first skate in Lake Placid, and she noted that of the two rinks she skated in while at the Olympic Center, she enjoyed skating in the 1980 arena the most and appreciated the history of the arena.

"(It was) really cool and really inspiring to be here because of the Olympics," Liu said, also noting that when she wasn't practicing or competing, she was able to enjoy Lake Placid's Main Street and walking around Mirror Lake.

From the Lake Placid Junior Grand Prix, Liu will compete at the JGP Poland competition next month, and as a senior-level skater nationally (she will not qualify to compete as a senior competitor internationally until the 2021/2022 season).

While she doesn't plan to work on any other quad jumps at the moment, she is always striving to improve in other areas of her skating this season.

"It's a good learning experience since it is only the first JGP and one of the first big comps this season. ... I'm just trying to learn from this," Liu said. "(This season's goals) are to land all my jumps and improve my skating skills and speed into all my jumps."

Rounding out the podium with Liu and Park was Anastasia Tarakanova, who was the only Russian competing in the ladies event and scored 179.29 points overall.

Other US competitors in the ladies competition included Emilia Murdock and Jessica Lin, who were both making their Junior Grand Prix debut. They placed seventh and eighth, respectively.

Peru was represented for the first time in an ISU competition with Andrea Pekarek, and total of 32 Junior Ladies competed in the event.

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The men's field boasted 20 competitors, and Japan's Shun Sato won both the short and long programs to capture the title. He used several quads alone and in combination, along with the standard triple axels.

Although Sato had a less than ideal skate, with rocky landings on his quad salchow and quad toe loop/triple toe loop, and a fall on the triple lutz, his overall points of 217.12 points were high enough to secure victory.

One of the skaters to watch at the competition was last year's Junior Grand Prix final champion, Stephen Gogolev, of Canada. Despite two falls in the free skate (on a triple axel and a quad salchow, respectively), he rallied to complete the rest of the program well enough to hold on to the silver medal with a score of 203.70.

Russia's Gleb Lutfullin placed third with a score of 203.50, landing a quad salchow, a triple axel and a triple axel/triple toe loop combination in his Junior Grand Prix debut.

Several US men competed in the event as well, perhaps the highest-profile competitor being Ryan Dunk, a U.S. junior champion, along with Ilia Malinin and Joe Klein. All three finished in the top 10 of the final results.

Ilia Malinin, skating a James-Bond themed long program, landed two triple axels (including one in combination) and completed high-quality spins and step sequence to finish just off the podium in fourth place.

Joe Klein, meanwhile, skated a solid free skate to "Feeling Good," which included a triple loop/double toe loop/double loop sequence and level four spins, to place seventh overall.

As the reigning U.S. Junior champion, Ryan Dunk was another one of the skaters to watch at the event, but a failed triple axel attempt at the beginning of the program cost him some points and caused him to place fifth overall.

Before he skated, Dunk shared that his intent was to show his improved skating presence and artistry.

"I feel like these programs are much more sophisticated and artistic than the programs last year, so I really want that to come across in Lake Placid," he said.

Dunk's goals for the season are to skate his best and become more consistent in competition.

"I hate to be cliche, but I really want to skate my best," Dunk said. "Last year, I would skate a bad short program and a good free skate, then a good short program and a bad free skate. So I want to do a good short program and free skate at the same event.

"My jumps have really improved, so I really (want to) have clean landings and positive grade of execution in all my elements."

Despite the error in the program, in a tweet on the Figure Skaters Online twitter account, Dunk said "he did feel the pressure coming into this event as the reigning U.S. Junior Champion and says he has improved so much since Nationals."

Pairs skating is usually one of the most popular events, with their lifts, throw jumps and pair spins, and the Junior Grand Prix event was no exception. The podium was dominated by Russian pairs. Apollinariia Panfilova and Dmitry Rylov placed first, followed by Kseniia Akhanteva and Valerii Kolesov (silver, 171.19) and Alina Pepeleva and Roman Pleshkov (bronze, 159.29).

Paniflova and Rylov's high technical score and superior program components score helped them win both the short and long program to win gold overall, surpassing the second-place team by more than 15 points with a score of 186.92.

US pairs Kate Finster and Balazs Nagy and Isabelle Martins and Ryan Bedard placed sixth and 10th, respectively.

In ice dance, the US team of Avonley Nguyen and Vadym Kolesnik won both the rhythm dance and the free dance to capture the gold overall with a score of 170.80. The 2019 U.S. junior silver medalists also previously won silver and gold in their 2018/2019 Junior Grand Prix season.

Russian team Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin placed second in both segments to earn silver with 160.17 points, which was a personal best total score. A team to watch, they have consistently placed in most of their events since teaming up in the spring of 2018. They won bronze at the 2018 Junior Grand Prix Czech Republic in September 2018.

Incidentally, the gold and silver medalists all train together in Novi, Michigan with the same coaching team that includes renowned ice dance coaches Igor Shpilband and Pasquale Camerlengo.

Third place went to the Czech team of Natalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler, who are the two-time Czech national champions. The siblings earned a total score of 150.00.

The US team of Ella Ales and Daniel Tsarik placed fifth while Anna Lavrova and Maxwell Gart withdrew due to injury.

Overall, Team USA won two events - ladies and ice dance - making it a successful second event in the Junior Grand Prix series for American skaters.

The next Junior Grand Prix event will take place Sept.4-7, in Riga, Latvia.

The next figure skating event in Lake Placid will be the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition Oct. 14-20, featuring 250 competitors in singles, pairs and ice dance.

For more information on figure skating programs, including the competition, visit www.lakeplacidskating.com.

 
 
 

 

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