A Whirlwind Career Ends As Figure Skater Alysa Liu Retires At Age 16

by Chrös McDougall

Alysa Liu skates during the women single skating short program during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 15, 2022 in Beijing.


Alysa Liu won U.S. figure skating titles during her first two years as a teenager, stuck around long enough to be age-eligible for the Olympic Winter Games, and after a memorable Olympic debut in Beijing followed by a bronze medal at the world championships, she has decided to retire from the sport. It’s been quite the journey for someone who is still just 16.
“Heyyyyy so i’m here to announce that i am retiring from skating🤭🤭,” Liu began in a long retirement post on Instagram Saturday. “I started skating when i was 5 so that’s about 11 years on the ice and it’s been an insane 11 years. a lot of good and a lot of bad but (you know) that’s just how it is. i’ve made so many friends, and so so sooo many good memories that i’ll have for the rest of my life.”
Liu, of Richmond, California, broke into the elite figure skating scene in 2019, when she landed two triple axels en route to winning her first U.S. title. At age 13, she was the youngest U.S. women’s champion ever. One year later she defended her title, this time with two triple axels as well as the first quad jump by a woman at the U.S. championships.
In a sport where those big four-rotation jumps were quickly becoming essential to be competitive on the international level, Liu appeared well positioned to break through and become just the second American woman to medal at the world championships since 2007.
However, due to age restrictions she was not allowed to compete at the senior international level until the Olympic season in 2021-22.
By the time that Olympic season finally rolled around, some things had changed for Liu. After a move and coaching change in the months prior to the Games, and then having to miss the 2022 U.S. championships due to a positive COVID-19 test, Liu arrived in Beijing just looking to enjoy the experience.
That’s what she did, landing seven triple jumps, including two triple-triple combinations, during her joyful free skate at Capital Indoor Stadium. That left her in seventh place — and thrilled with the experience.
“Everything has been really crazy,” she said afterward. “Oh my god, me and my friends, we all made it here, so I got to go around the (athlete’s) village with them — before the competition even started — so it was already fun. And then we’ve all had really good programs, and we get to hang out after. I can’t believe how fun it is here.”
Liu wasn’t quite done yet. A little over a month after her Olympic debut, Liu skated a clean long program at the world championships in France to claim third place. That made her the first U.S. woman to medal at a global figure skating championship since Ashley Wagner won silver at the 2016 worlds. Prior to Wagner, no U.S. woman had reached the individual podium at the world championships or Olympics since 2006.
And that, it turned out, was enough for Liu.
“I honestly never thought i would’ve accomplished as much as i did LMAOO i’m so happy,” her retirement post continued. “I feel so satisfied with how my skating career has gone. now that i’m finally done with my goals in skating i’m going to be moving on with my life. (Right now) i’m probably just gonna spend all my spare time with my family and friends; and i’m also going to study (you know what I mean). but (for real) this skating thing has taught me a lot more about life than i anticipated. i’m really glad i skated.”

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic Movement for since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.