Mariah Bell, Karen Chen and Alysa Liu to compete in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The US Olympic figure skating team is in place.

And despite recent positive tests for COVID-19, Alysa Liu is on it.

The 16-year-old has successfully applied for her place and will join national champion Mariah Bell and runner-up Karen Chen to represent the U.S. team at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing next month. The three-woman squad was finalized and announced on Saturday afternoon, a day after the conclusion of women’s competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

“I’ve always been training for this moment,” Liu said at a press conference, which she joined remotely from the Nashville hotel room where she is isolating herself. “I’m really happy with the decisions I’ve made (in my career), because apparently they were all pretty good, because I’m here right now. And yes, I’m really excited to be going with Mariah. and Karen. “

Meanwhile, Lindsay Thorngren has been chosen as the first substitute for Beijing – which could prove to be a particularly important role this year, given COVID-19 concerns surrounding the Games.

The remaining members of the US figure skating team – which will include three men, three ice dance teams and two pairs – will be announced on Sunday.

For women, Saturday’s announcement had been in the works for years but isn’t all that surprising. After Bradie Tennell (injury) and Amber Glenn (COVID-19) forfeits, Bell, Chen and Liu were widely regarded as the top three skaters in the U.S. women’s peloton.

Liu and Bell, 25, will make their Olympic debuts, while Chen will make his second appearance. The 22-year-old finished 11th at the 2018 Winter Games.

None of the three American skaters are expected to fight for medals in the women’s competition in Beijing, as the event has been dominated in recent years by the Russians. But Liu, a two-time national champion before her 15th birthday, could represent the U.S. team’s best shot for the podium.

Originally from California, Liu is one of the few American women to have achieved the notoriously tricky triple axel in competition. After testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning, she was forced to withdraw from the nationals between the short program and the free program. She said on Saturday that she was feeling good and watched the free skate from her hotel room while chatting with her friends on FaceTime.

“It was pretty cool watching him,” Liu said. “Normally I don’t really watch competitions, especially not with my friends. So it was fun watching a competition with my friends.”

Liu said she will stay in Nashville until it is negative. It will have to produce a series of such tests to get to Beijing.

Bell, meanwhile, is said to be the oldest figure skater to have made the United States team as an individual since the late 1920s. won their first national championship in nine tries on Saturday night to lock in its Olympic place.

“It wasn’t the easiest four years out there, but I’m really excited about how it all turned out,” Bell said. “I’ve sacrificed a lot to be at this point, and I’m just honored and grateful and can’t wait to be in Beijing.”

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

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