Two-time United States champion Olympic hopeful Liu with COVID-19

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Alysa Liu skates in the women's short program at the US Figure Skating Championships in Nashville, TN on Thursday, January 6, 2022 (Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean via AP)

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Alysa Liu skates in the women’s short program at the US Figure Skating Championships in Nashville, TN on Thursday, January 6, 2022 (Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean via AP)

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Alysa Liu skates in the women’s short program at the US Figure Skating Championships in Nashville, TN on Thursday, January 6, 2022 (Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean via AP)

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – Two-time champion Alysa Liu withdrew from the U.S. figure skating championships after testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday, less than a day after a third place finish in the program runs the put in position to make the Olympic team.

Liu, 16, is at least the fifth competitor to test positive for the virus in preparation and at the national championships, and the third who was scheduled to make the squad for the Beijing Games. Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier’s pair tandem quit the day before the competition started when they tested positive.

Much like Knierim and Frazier, who are considering applying for one of the two couples spots on the Olympic team, Liu has informed US Figure Skating that she will apply for one of the three female spots based on her recent work.

“I am fully vaccinated, wear an n95 mask and got 2 negative test results before leaving for Nashville,” Liu wrote on her Instagram account shortly after retiring. “Unfortunately, things are happening. “

Amber Glenn also pulled out after testing positive, with the announcement coming about an hour before she took to the ice on Friday night. Glenn came in with an outside shot at the Olympics, but struggled to keep up with his short program.

“It breaks my heart since training so hard and being so careful,” said Glenn, who posted a photo of his two positive tests on Instagram. “I blamed myself for being so bad and just not me in yesterday’s performance and I was so confused as to how I could have felt what I did. Knowing that I was competing while sick with COVID is awful.

“It scares me to think who may have been exposed to me. “

Indeed, the most stressful for the competitors is the fact that several skaters were in close contact with Liu and Glenn on Thursday evening. Mariah Bell and Karen Chen, both vaccinated, even shared a platform with Liu for interviews after the short program, despite being several feet apart and all wearing masks.

But Bell and Chen were available for Saturday night’s free skate, which Bell won or his first national championship. Chen finished second and both will head to the Olympics.

Liu’s positive test came back during a routine test that all skaters, coaches and other staff are required to undergo four days after arriving in Nashville. She hadn’t shown any symptoms during training this week.

American figure skating is now going through a contact tracing process in accordance with CDC recommendations.

Liu said she was grateful to American figure skating for “taking extra precautions and having the necessary testing facilities to help keep everyone here as safe as possible.” She added that she felt good “physically and mentally”.

Liu has long been considered an American’s best hope to stand alongside the Russians on the podium in Beijing. The youngest female skater to win the U.S. Championship is one of the few who has the ability to land a clean triple axis, even though she fell during the short program on what is by far the most triple jump. difficult.

She still finished with 71.42 points in her program. Bell led with 75.55 and Chen was second at 74.55.

“I don’t really think about beating other people in competition. When you say, “Defeat the Russians,” that’s not my goal, “Liu said. “My goal is to skate the way I want to skate. And I feel like that’s just my goal.

Let’s leave it to the rest of the tight-knit skating world to brag about Liu instead. It all started when she triumphed at the national championships in 2018, breaking Tara Lipinski’s record for youngest winner at 13. And while she was too young to compete in the Pyeongchang Games that year, it was clear that Liu was aiming to compete in Beijing.

These hopes now rest in the hands of a selection committee which will make its decision on Saturday.

The same goes for those of Knierim and Frazier, who were the favorites to take gold as a pair in Nashville. The pair won the title last year, when the pandemic prevented all fans from attending the national championships in Las Vegas, and Knierim is aiming for another Olympic team after competing with her husband Chris Knierim in Pyeongchang.

“I am devastated,” Frazier said. “Any athlete would agree with me, you always want the ability to go out and compete. It was one of the most emotional days of my career. There is nothing you can do, you have to be careful and smart, but the competitor in you wants to come out and compete and defend your title.

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Other AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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