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US figure skating’s Alysa Liu to petition for Olympic spot after COVID exit

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Alysa Liu, the top female figure skater in the United States, tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday. The positive test puts the 16-year-old’s potential Olympic team inclusion in jeopardy.

Liu revealed the positive test via Instagram stories.

“I’m fully vaccinated, have been wearing a n95 mask and got 2 negative test results before leaving to Nashville,” Liu posted on Instagram. “Things happen unfortunately …

“I’m thankful to US Figure Skating for taking the extra precaution and having the necessary testing facilities to help keep everyone here as safe as possible. I’m feeling good physically and mentally and I’m wishing all the girls good luck for tonight.”

Prior to her withdrawal, Liu had finished third in the short program behind Mariah Bell and Karen Chen.

Already a two-time national champion, Liu will petition the selection committee for inclusion based on her body of recent work. The team, which will take three individual female skaters, will name the team on Sunday following the conclusion of nationals.

When looking at who will be selected for the Olympic team, the selection committee doesn’t solely look at the current championships but rather cumulative results and medal potential. Liu has long been considered to be the best hope for an American woman to stand next to the Russians on the podium in Beijing. In 2018, she became the youngest skater ever to win the U.S. championship at 13 years old. At the time, she was too young to compete at the Pyeongchang Games that same year.

In addition to being a two-time champion, Liu is also one of few American skaters who can land a clean triple axel.

However, aside from not being able to close out the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Liu would also have to clear the Chinese requirements for COVID-19. While she will likely recover from her infection prior to the Games, she will have to test negative on two PCR tests in the 96 hours before departure. PCR tests can stay positive for weeks, and sometimes months after recovery.

The Olympics are set to begin on Feb. 4 with women’s singles beginning Feb. 6.