Alysa Liu successfully defends US women’s skating title

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GREENSBORO, NC

Alysa Liu watched Mariah Bell put out the performance of her life. Then the 14-year-old defending champion did Bell one better. Liu needed all of her technical brilliance in her impressive jumping arsenal to hold off Bell at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships title Friday night. “I was very happy for her,” Liu said. “I said, ‘OK, she did well and I also have to do well.’” No American woman comes close to the repertoire of jumps the 14- year-old Liu possesses. She hit two triple axels among eight triples overall and attempted the only quad of the event, a lutz she under-rotated. Her 160.12 points by far exceeded the rest of the field and lifted her to 235.52 and up from second place after the short program. Skating last, Liu had little margin after Bell’s superb skate. Bell knew after her final triple lutz, her seventh triple jump of the program, that she’d outdone herself. A huge smile spread across her face for the final half-minute as she flew across the ice with spirals and then her last spins. “I saw how into it the crowd was and I love to share what I do with the audience like that,” she said. “I feel very awesome to have that experience.” Bell’s program was choreographed by 2018 U.S. Olympian Adam Rippon, who got the first hug from her as she left the ice to a standing ovation. “Adam has been such a major part of my success this year,” Bell explained. “To have that moment here was so special. He deserves to have that moment and to be able to share it.” But she simply didn’t have the technical numbers to win her first national crown. Short program winner Bradie Tennell, the 2018 U.S. champ, has vastly improved her presentation, and she’s usually the most precise of American female jumpers.—AFP