List of US figure skaters established, including two Covid-positive athletes


The United States has named two figure skaters to its Olympic roster who tested positive for Covid this week, dramatically raising the stakes for U.S. officials frantically trying to find their way to Beijing amid the country’s strict entry policies. China for the Olympics now in 26 days.

Alysa Liu, a 16-year-old who has been regarded for several years as the brightest light in American women’s skating, tested positive after skating in the short program Thursday at the 2022 National Figure Championships. The competition was the last one US Olympic contenders’ selection event, and officials took their performances earlier in the season into account when selecting their team.

Liu’s Friday morning result came as part of a diet planned by US Figure Skating to test athletes and coaches four days after arriving in Nashville. During the official announcement of the women’s team on Saturday, Liu appeared from her hotel room via Zoom in front of an arena crowded with masked spectators, and later reporters.

“I actually feel good,” she told reporters, later saying she was unsure when she would be allowed to leave to return to her training base in Colorado. “It depends on how quickly I can test negative again. I literally have no idea of ​​anything. Guess I’ll just stay here until I run out of Covid. ”

The other two US Olympic selections for the women’s event, 2022 winner Mariah Bell and silver medalist Karen Chen, were there in person, masked and away from the crowd. However, each of them had been in the stands wearing masks at other times of the day.

The US figure skating also named Amber Glenn – who, like Liu, withdrew from competition after the short program following a positive Covid test on Friday – as the second of three substitutes for Beijing.

Covid protocols established by Beijing organizers and the International Olympic Committee require participants to have a series of negative results on sensitive PCR tests before leaving for the Games, as well as daily tests during their stay.

This has raised concerns that athletes unable to avoid the highly transmissible, vaccine-escaping Omicron variant of the virus may find themselves unable to obtain negative test results in time for their departure, even though they are no longer infectious according to the report. the commonly understood schedule for the virus. A separate provision in the protocols’ playbook also left it in doubt whether athletes who contract the virus now might have to meet an even shorter deadline to get two negative tests.

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said over the weekend that officials believe there is an opportunity for athletes to meet the negative test requirement in order to travel and compete, even if it continues to solve new problems posed by Omicron.

“These exceptional athletes deserved the opportunity to represent the United States team at the Olympics and we are supporting them in their preparation, travel and competition,” Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Finnoff said in a statement. “We are closely following the Games’ testing protocols and taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the athletes. “

The National Championships were hosted by US Figure Skating, not the USOPC, as it was not an official Olympic testing event. The decision to go ahead and gather the candidates for the Olympic team in one location was criticized over the weekend, although no athlete criticized his national governing body.

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier did not skate in the US Championships, but were named to the Olympic team.


Photo:

guillaume horcajuelo / Shutterstock

Brandon Frazier, half of America’s top couples squad, tested positive after experiencing what he described as “severe symptoms” on Tuesday night, shortly after arriving. He and his partner Alexa Knierim retired from competition but were named to the Olympic squad on Sunday due to their performances in previous competitions this season, with Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc winning the national title Saturday.

“Now I’m just trying to take a deep breath and come to terms with what is and what was and I just remember, you know what, we still have a lot of work to do, there is still a lot of stuff ahead of us. and I’m ‘excited to be going back to work and doing like Alexa and I wanted to do this week,’ Frazier said at a press conference with reporters, to which he also emerged from the isolation via Zoom .

The three American ice dance couples named to the Olympic team — Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue — all train at the same location in Montreal. Chock and Bates edged out Hubbell and Donohue for the 2022 national title on Saturday, but both couples are seen as podium contenders in Beijing.

The ice dancers and several other skaters clustered with other Olympic team contenders on their rinks said they are now taking extra precautions to distance themselves from the outside world and, where possible, from each other .

Hubbell and Donohue kept their masks on even during the official six-minute warm-up before their free dance on Saturday.

“Our main goal this season was to stay healthy and Covid-free, and that remains our goal,” said Hubbell.

The men’s team of Jason Brown, now six-time national champion and Olympic favorite Nathan Chen, and Vincent Zhou also continue to face a tense road to the Games.

Brown, who trains in Toronto, tweeted that it had taken “33 hours of travel, 5 canceled flights, 4 airline changes, 3 airports, 2 countries, one night in Atlanta, one rental car and a ton of help” to get to Nashville, n ‘arriving that Friday.

On Sunday, shortly before the men’s long program, his trainer and travel partner Tracy Wilson tested positive for the virus.

“We have done our best to take precautions every step of the way,” said Brown. “But we are moving forward and we know that is part of the game right now.”

—Ben Cohen contributed to this article.

Write to Louise Radnofsky at [email protected]

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