Sports Illustrated article on Alysa Liu

Sylvia

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Article in the May 20, 2019 issue of Sports Illustrated by By Kalyn Kahler: In Quads We Trust: 13-Year-Old Alysa Liu Is the Future of U.S. Ladies’ Figure Skating

16 photos by Sports Illustrated contributing photographers Deanne Fitzmaurice and Rob Tringali: https://www.si.com/figure-skating/photo/2019/05/16/day-life-alysa-liu

ETA - tweeted by the author: https://twitter.com/kalynkahler/status/1129047603654660097
Alysa Liu, 13, the youngest-ever US figure skating champ is currently adding the quad, skating's hardest jump, to her new programs. The next Olympics is in Beijjing, & Liu's dad fled communist China in 1989. The Liu's story is much bigger than skating
 
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sk9tingfan

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Barbara Manatee

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What’s riding on her mastering the quad? Nothing—just the hopes of a once-proud federation, the dreams of a high-spirited teenager, and the prospect of her father’s triumphant return to a nation he fled 30 years ago.
Sheesh. Why not tell the girl she's expected to cure cancer, too? :rolleyes:
 

sharsk8s

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Sheesh. Why not tell the girl she's expected to cure cancer, too? :rolleyes:
I don't think putting this much pressure and expectation will help her. Although she is the only American doing quads, there are nearly a dozen girls in russia doing them too. It is not even close to a clear road for her to olympic gold and I don't think everyone claiming her as america's golden girl for 2022 before she even makes her international debut is going to be beneficial.
 

Vagabond

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I don't think putting this much pressure and expectation will help her. Although she is the only American doing quads, there are nearly a dozen girls in russia doing them too. It is not even close to a clear road for her to olympic gold and I don't think everyone claiming her as america's golden girl for 2022 before she even makes her international debut is going to be beneficial.
She has already made her international debut. In fact, she has already participated in three international competitions.
 

skatfan

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I don't think putting this much pressure and expectation will help her. Although she is the only American doing quads, there are nearly a dozen girls in russia doing them too. It is not even close to a clear road for her to olympic gold and I don't think everyone claiming her as america's golden girl for 2022 before she even makes her international debut is going to be beneficial.
We have learned nothing from the Gracie Gold experience.
 

clairecloutier

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This was a really good story about Alysa. It was especially interesting to learn of her father's background in China, and more details of Alysa's parentage. Very interesting.

As others have commented, though, the hype and hopes around Alysa are ... a lot. I hope she & her family & team can handle it.
 

feraina

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Wow. What a back story! But given her dad’s background, it probably helps to put things in perspective. It probably helps to know that there are bigger things in life than a skating medal, even an Olympic one.

I’m a bit concerned about her dad. He could really get into trouble when he goes to Beijing for the Olympics, depending on how politically active he has been, and what kind of law he’s been practicing. China is not shy about jailing foreign citizens born in China that they deem a threat to the state.

I’m quite surprised to hear that they have a ‘mom’ too. This is really the first time I’ve heard her mentioned. It’s strange that he’s the primary guardian (courts usually favor mothers), and also strange the way he talks about his kids as though they are solely his project, from conception to upbringing.
 

natsulian

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Although the hype is a lot, it’s been contained to a core audience for now. Additionally, because Alysa has been exposed to the media early on and because she’s been trained to handle them at such a young age, should she make it to Beijing, I hope she is a veteran on how to handle the media and separate them from her skating. I worry for her and the hype, but some people are just born to thrive in the limelight.
 

skatfan

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I’m a bit concerned about her dad. He could really get into trouble when he goes to Beijing for the Olympics, depending on how politically active he has been, and what kind of law he’s been practicing. China is not shy about jailing foreign citizens born in China that they deem a threat to the state.
I'm pretty sure that China would not want to have a big to-do about a skater's parent getting jailed during the winter games.

I’m quite surprised to hear that they have a ‘mom’ too. This is really the first time I’ve heard her mentioned. It’s strange that he’s the primary guardian (courts usually favor mothers), and also strange the way he talks about his kids as though they are solely his project, from conception to upbringing.
I don't remember hearing about a mom either. Courts have changed on mother/father stuff, and we know nothing of the details about who really wanted children. Sounds like things are working for them.
 

feraina

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I'm pretty sure that China would not want to have a big to-do about a skater's parent getting jailed during the winter games.
Hopefully you are right. But if he has Chinese relatives and visits at other times... speaking out about 1989 has already put him at risk. And even more so if he talks about it more to the media as the Olympics draw closer.
 

feraina

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Actually now I remember that Alysa has a grandmother that helped raise the kids when they were younger, but she has since returned to China.
 

layman

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Alysa and her dad have an incredible backstory that reminds us all that China is still a totalitarian state and athletes competing there may be at risk for their (or their families) political beliefs.
 
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giselle23

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I don't think putting this much pressure and expectation will help her. Although she is the only American doing quads, there are nearly a dozen girls in russia doing them too. It is not even close to a clear road for her to olympic gold and I don't think everyone claiming her as america's golden girl for 2022 before she even makes her international debut is going to be beneficial.
A dozen? Really? I can only think of two who have done them in competition.
 

giselle23

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We have learned nothing from the Gracie Gold experience.
It depends on the skater. Michelle Kwan was hyped early, too, and was able to handle it. The fact of the matter is that Alysa is a prodigy and that is news. (BTW, I disagree with the article's claim that the US's delay in implementing the IJS is the reason their skaters aren't doing quads. No female skaters were doing quads until about a year ago. The IJS was instituted in 2004/5. Also, why cut off the drought of American medals 13 years ago? Kimmie Meissner won Worlds in 2006 and Sasha Cohen won bronze, meaning US ladies have medaled three times at Worlds since the IJS was instituted.)
 

UGG

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Wasn’t Caroline Zhang projected to be the next Kwan and win 2 Olympic Gold medals during the time when she was slaughtering everyone on the JPG and won Jr Worlds? 🙄
 

natsulian

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Caroline Zhang had bad technique from the very start with her mule kick and air position. Compare Alysa’s technique to Caroline and you will see a CONSIDERABLE difference. Also, Caroline wasn’t the only one hyped. Mirai, Ashley, and her were projected to be front runners from the very start. We kind of have the same case now with Ting, Alysa, and Hanna, but the difference is in the technique and how the hype just centers around Alysa. Ting reminds me of a young Mirai (remember when she was 1st after the Short at Worlds and bombed her Long). The thing with the US ladies is not a lack in talent, but rather a lack in drive because there are so many other things to do and we don’t have international ladies stars young athletes can look up to. With Alysa, Ting, and Hanna, that may change. No matter how well the men may be doing, the backbone of figure skating in the US has always been the women.
 

layman

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Caroline Zhang had bad technique from the very start with her mule kick and air position. Compare Alysa’s technique to Caroline and you will see a CONSIDERABLE difference. Also, Caroline wasn’t the only one hyped. Mirai, Ashley, and her were projected to be front runners from the very start. We kind of have the same case now with Ting, Alysa, and Hanna, but the difference is in the technique and how the hype just centers around Alysa. Ting reminds me of a young Mirai (remember when she was 1st after the Short at Worlds and bombed her Long). The thing with the US ladies is not a lack in talent, but rather a lack in drive because there are so many other things to do and we don’t have international ladies stars young athletes can look up to. With Alysa, Ting, and Hanna, that may change. No matter how well the men may be doing, the backbone of figure skating in the US has always been the women.
As much as I like Alysa and adore her spunky personality and admire her bravery and her jumps...I don't think her technique is that different from how Caroline's was at that age.

Caroline skated very slowly into her jumps. So does Alysa. Neither needs much speed...they can both jump from a standstill and both have rocket rotations.

Neither skater has much speed or power or great ice coverage or flow. When Caroline was Alysa's age, they said that those qualities would come with time, but they never did.

This technique worked for Caroline when she was a tiny novice/junior. Then she grew. Her old technique no longer worked. She tried to re-learn the jumps but it was too late (the pressure of the hype placed on Caroline certainly did not help either; she was so hard on herself).

I think Alysa should start working on her technique right now so that she can have more success as a senior skater than Caroline Zhang did.
 
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Tavi

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Interesting article, but it feels like the author is rewriting history. Alysa is extremely talented, but Gracie Gold was also considered extremely promising when she came up, and I don’t think the author even mentions her. The fact that she didn’t live up to her promise or the hype doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. It would have been far more honest to acknowledge Gracie’s struggles rather than implying that due to USFS’s failure to implement a bonus system for too long, Alysa is the first potentially competitive prospect we’ve had in the past 15 years. Gracie’s problem wasn’t that she was technically second rate. JMO.
 

layman

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Interesting article, but it feels like the author is rewriting history. Alysa is extremely talented, but Gracie Gold was also considered extremely promising when she came up, and I don’t think the author even mentions her. The fact that she didn’t live up to her promise or the hype doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. It would have been far more honest to acknowledge Gracie’s struggles rather than implying that due to USFS’s failure to implement a bonus system for too long, Alysa is the first potentially competitive prospect we’ve had in the past 15 years. Gracie’s problem wasn’t that she was technically second rate. JMO.
I agree that the article ignored Gracie and I also agree that the pressure and hype (as the one to beat the Russians) really got to her.
 

overedge

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Although the hype is a lot, it’s been contained to a core audience for now.
I don't think so. She was certainly getting pushed to the moon and back during US Nationals.

I'm more concerned about her dad calling himself "Coach Arthur" and having rules about how many times Alysa has to land jumps cleanly. Maybe he was being sarcastic in calling himself "Coach", but IMO that sounds like a little too much parent involvement in training.
 

natsulian

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As much as I like Alysa and adore her spunky personality and admire her bravery and her jumps...I don't think her technique is that different from how Caroline's was at that age.

Caroline skated very slowly into her jumps. So does Alysa. Neither needs much speed...they can both jump from a standstill and both have rocket rotations.

Neither skater has much speed or power or great ice coverage or flow. When Caroline was Alysa's age, they said that those qualities would come with time, but they never did.

This technique worked for Caroline when she was a tiny novice/junior. Then she grew. Her old technique no longer worked. She tried to re-learn the jumps but it was too late (the pressure of the hype placed on Caroline certainly did not help either; she was so hard on herself).

I think Alysa should start working on her technique right now so that she can have more success as a senior skater than Caroline Zhang did.
I like that analysis. However, if you look at Alysa’s jump aside from the 3A, you can see the reach and “click” she has when she jumps. Caroline’s technique... was scary... to me at least. When she jumped, Caroline kicked her leg way out of the circle, and it felt uncomfortable to watch simply because of how detrimental it can be on the hips. As for Alysa, her technique on the 2A is... even more uncomfortable because she has that Eteri technique where you kind of just throw yourself to the sharks. However, her triples, especially the 3F, 3T, and 3Lz are pleasing and not as rough. Also, after working with jump technicians, her jumps have drastically improved. Watch the difference between 2019 and 2017. Hopefully Alysa's technique can keep improving so that even if she doesn't keep her quads after puberty, she can at least have nice triples.

Caroline:
2007 --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSr9lNt7K8M (J. Worlds around the same age as Alysa if I recall correctly)
2008 --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LpW3f5EYSs (US Nationals)
2010 --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOkkpgnKCbo (Four Continents)

Alysa:
2017 --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuwAZEptHVo (US Nationals with erratic jumps and air positions)
2019 --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XU9Cpxw9Eko (US Nationals)
 
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skatfan

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I'm not sure why an article about Alysa Liu should talk about Gracie Gold.
Agreed.

And as for nobody being a contender from US Ladies in the last 15 years, Mirai was fourth in Vancouver behind Yuna and Mao and ready to be on the podium until personal stuff took her out too.

The safer bet is to bring along several skaters instead of relying on “the one” but since Alysa won Nationals it’s to be expected.

Alysa hasn’t even competed on the JGP yet so it’s way worse than with Gracie.
 

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