A 13-year-old Asian American figure skater has become the youngest national champion ever after recently winning the U.S. Figure Skating Championship in Detroit, Michigan.
Alysa Liu, who hails from Clovis, California, took home the top prize for the event’s women division last week, beating the year’s previous winner, 20-year-old Bradie Tennell.
At only 4 feet 7 inches tall, Liu needed a little help from Tennell to climb onto the first place podium. The third place went to 22-year-old Mariah Bell.
She’s the first American woman to land two triple axels in competition, with Tonya Harding, Kimmie Meissner and Mirai Nagasu landing one each in 1991, 2005, and 2018, respectively.
“I was just happy that I beat my personal record, and I did a clean long program,” Liu told reporters during the post-competition interview, ESPN reports.
Tara Lipinski, who previously held the record for the youngest U.S. women’s champion when was 14, was a commentator during the event.
“Records are made to be broken … It is quite an honor that she is the one to do it. What a phenomenal talent,” Lipinski was quoted as saying during the broadcast.
Since the next few world championships require a minimum entry age of 15, Liu will be too young to compete. At least she will be 16 and ready to participate at the 2022 Olympics.
Liu appeared as a guest at “The Tonight Show” on Tuesday, showing host Jimmy Fallon the pre-skating routine she does out of superstition. They even performed the maneuver together.
Liu is the eldest among the five children of Arthur Liu, an attorney who immigrated to the United States from Sichuan Province, China in the 1990s.
Like her four siblings, the record-breaking athlete was conceived through an egg donor and a surrogate mother.
After attending a Chinese school for three years, she then pursued an education at the Oakland School for the Arts, which offers an emphasis in figure skating.
Due to constant traveling for competitions, she began to miss too much in school. She then began homeschooling at her father’s law office in between practices.
According to Mercury News, the young champion used the same online program that other skaters, Karen Chen and Vincent Zhou, have used.