Alysa Liu changes coaches, location a month and a half before Olympic figure skating team selected

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Two-time senior national champion Alysa Liu, the most successful U.S. women’s figure skater this season, has changed coaches barely two months before the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

The skater’s father, Arthur Liu, confirmed the switch Monday morning in a text to NBCSports.com.

Two days after returning from the NHK Trophy in Tokyo, which ended Nov. 14, Liu left coaches Massimo Scali and Jeremy Abbott in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to train with Christy Krall, Drew Meekins and Viktor Pfeifer.

Asked the reason for the change, Arthur Liu wrote, “I felt Alysa needed more intensity in her training and the coaches and I were not on the same page as to how the training should be.”

Arthur Liu admitted he was “a bit” worried about making the change so close to both the February Olympics and the January U.S. Championships, at which the U.S. team for Beijing will be selected.

Liu, 16, began the season with victories at the Cranberry Cup International in Massachusetts and two Challenger Series events in Europe. In the second, the Nebelhorn Trophy, her finish guaranteed the U.S. its third women’s spot in Beijing.

She followed with her debut appearances on the senior Grand Prix circuit, finishing fifth at Skate Canada and fourth at NHK. In the free skates at both those events, several of her jumps were penalized for incomplete rotations. Those penalties were the mathematical difference between fourth and a silver medal at NHK.

This is the second full coaching change in two seasons for Liu, who in 2019 became the youngest senior singles national champion ever at age 13. She won the title again in 2020.

After finishing third at the 2020 World Junior Championships, Liu left her longtime coach, Laura Lipetsky, with plans to train some of the time with Lee Barkell and Lori Nichol in Canada and some with Scali in Oakland. Travel restrictions following the start of the Covid pandemic quashed those plans, leaving her to work just virtually with Barkell and Nichol, an arrangement that lasted only a few months.

By early autumn 2020, Olympic ice dancer Scali had taken over Liu’s training, and four-time U.S. champion Abbott began working with her as well. Abbott got on a full-time role later in autumn.

They found themselves with a Liu whose physical changes compromised her ability to do the big jumps that had been her calling card. A hip injury last fall made it problematic for her to jump at all early in a season where Covid would make live competition a rarity.

Liu managed to get fourth at the 2021 nationals and made enough progress since then that, in the absence of injured reigning U.S. champion Bradie Tennell, she once again was the leading woman nationally.

“Alysa greatly appreciates both Massimo and Jeremy, and I also thank both of them for taking care of her,” Arthur Liu wrote.

Scali did not immediately reply to text messages seeking comment.

Liu had burst onto the scene in the 2019 season, when she became the first U.S. woman to land a triple axel in a nationals short program and the first U.S. woman to land two triple axels in any free skate. Early in the 2020 season, she became the first U.S. woman to land a quadruple jump in competition.

Liu has made six attempts at triple axels this season, with three getting downgraded, two called under-rotated and one called a quarter-rotation short. She has not tried a quad since the 2020 World Junior Championships.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.

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Alysa Liu changes coaches, location a month and a half before Olympic figure skating team selected originally appeared on NBCSports.com