Double senior national champion Alysa liu, the most successful American figure skater this season, changed coaches just two months before the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
The skater’s father, Arthur liu, confirmed the change on Monday morning in a text to NBCSports.com.
Two days after returning from the NHK Trophy to Tokyo, which ended on November 14, Liu quit coaching Massimo Scali and Jeremy Abbott in the San Francisco Bay Area and traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado to train with Christy krall, Drew meekins and Viktor Pfeifer.
When asked the reason for the change, Arthur Liu wrote: “I felt Alysa needed more intensity in her training and the coaches and I were not on the same page. the way training should be. “
Arthur Liu admitted he was “a little” worried about making the switch so close to the February Olympics and the January US Championships, in which the US team for Beijing will be selected.
Liu, 16, started the season with wins at the Cranberry Cup International in Massachusetts and two Challenger Series events in Europe. In the second, the Nebelhorn Trophy, her arrival secured the United States’ third place for women in Beijing.
She followed with her debut on the senior Grand Prix circuit, finishing fifth at Skate Canada and fourth at NHK. In the free programs of these two events, several of his jumps were penalized for incomplete rotations. These penalties were the mathematical difference between fourth and a silver medal in the NHK.
Meekins, the 2006 world junior pairs champion, said in a text message that he and Pfeifer would be in charge of Liu’s general training.
“I’m going to focus on training and running the program and getting her ready for competition,” Meekins said. “Christy and Eddie (Shipstad, who works with skaters on the pole harness) will focus on stabilizing his jumping technique through Dartfish and other analysis.
“Over the next 40 days, the goal is to make adjustments to her training routine so that she can perform at peak performance at the U.S. Championships, maximizing GOE on all of her elements, as well as achieving sharp jumps.
“At the same time, we are going to prepare for the Olympics, so if she is selected she will have the necessary preparation she would need to deliver a performance in Beijing that is competitive with what the best skaters in the world are doing. “
This is the second full coaching change in two seasons for Liu, who in 2019 became the youngest senior national singles champion at age 13. She won the title again in 2020.
After finishing third at the 2020 World Junior Championships, Liu left his longtime coach, Laura Lipetsky, with the intention of training part of the time with Lee barkel and Lori Nichol in Canada and some with Scali in Oakland. Travel restrictions after the start of the Covid pandemic canceled those plans, leaving her to practically work with Barkell and Nichol, an arrangement that only lasted a few months.
By early fall 2020, Olympic ice dancer Scali had resumed training from Liu, and four-time US champion Abbott also began working with her. Abbott got a full-time role later in the fall.
They ended up with a Liu whose physical changes compromised her ability to take the big jumps that had been her calling card. A hip injury last fall made it problematic for her to jump at all at the start of a season where Covid would make live competition a rarity.
Liu managed to place fourth at the 2021 national championships and has made enough progress since then, in the absence of an injured reigning United States champion. Bradie Tennell, she was once again the woman leader at the national level.
“Alysa greatly appreciates Massimo and Jeremy, and I also thank them both for taking care of her,” wrote Arthur Liu.
Scali said he was surprised by the split.
“Alysa is an amazing young woman, and I’m so proud of the work we’ve done over the past two years,” Scali wrote. “Even though the decision was a shock to me, I respect her and wish her only the best. In my heart, I will always cherish our journey together, and I will be there to encourage it. “
Abbott’s reaction was similar.
“I have nothing but deep respect and gratitude for the team I have been fortunate enough to be a part of, and for the time I have been able to spend guiding a truly remarkable human being,” said Abbott by text message. “While I may not be coaching Alysa anymore, I will always be around to support her.”
Arthur Liu added that his daughter had not moved to Colorado Springs but was simply there to train. He said she would also sometimes train in Oakland with Philippe DiGuglielmo, who had been her traction harness trainer there, but she would be spending most of the time by the US Championships in Colorado. The Liu family lives near Oakland.
Liu had burst onto the scene in the 2019 season, when she became the first American to land a triple axel in a national short program and the first American to land two triple axels in any free skate. At the start of the 2020 season, she became the first American to land a competitive quadruple jump.
Liu has made six triple-axle attempts this season, of which three were demoted, two were called undershot and one called a short spinning quarter. She hasn’t tried a quad since the 2020 World Junior Championships.
His performance and skating skills, which Scali focused on, have improved noticeably. After winning both national titles accumulating points on vaults, Liu has second-to-fifth place in the free skating program component scores by the American women this season, behind just one by Karen Chen. In their only one-on-one meeting at Skate Canada, Liu achieved a higher PCS.
“I want to thank Massimo for everything he has done for her,” Meekins said. “It’s so rare to see tangible improvements in components and skating skills, as was the case in the work he did with it. “
Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Olympic Winter Games, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.
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