NASHVILLE — Alysa Liu, one of the favorites to make the U.S. Olympic figure skating team for next month’s Beijing Winter Games, tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday and withdrew from the U.S. national championships.
Liu, 16, finished third in the short program at nationals on Thursday and was hoping that a strong showing in Friday’s free skate would strengthen her chances of making the Olympic team.
Her fate now is in the hands of U.S. Figure Skating officials, who on Saturday will announce the U.S. women’s team headed to Beijing. They will pick the three female single skaters based on their body of work over the past year — not just on how they finish at nationals.
That’s great news for Liu. She is one of the top-ranked American women and finished in the top five of both of her Grand Prix events this season.
Later Friday, another contender for the Olympic team, Amber Glenn, tested positive and withdrew from nationals, depriving her of a last chance to impress the Olympic selection committee. She said she was experiencing symptoms.
On Instagram, Liu — the senior national champion in 2019 and 2020 — wrote that she was fully vaccinated, had been wearing an N95 mask and twice tested negative before arriving at nationals.
“Things happen unfortunately, but it is what it is,” she wrote of her positive test, adding that she felt good physically and mentally. She did not mention whether she was experiencing any symptoms of the virus.
Liu was the second high-profile American skater to test positive at nationals. Brandon Frazier, who, with Alexa Knierim, is the reigning national pairs champion, withdrew from nationals on Wednesday after waking up feeling ill and then testing positive.
“Although my symptoms are pretty bad, nothing sucks more than not being able to compete,” Frazier said on social media.
Knierim wrote: “We have taken all the necessary precautions leading up to these championships, including but not limited to social distancing, the use of KN95 masks and canceling all holiday gatherings as well as private lessons at the rink, so it has been shocking and devastating for us to process what has happened.”
After testing positive on Friday morning, Glenn, who finished 14th in the short program and was among the top four women vying for the Olympic team, wrote on social media that she was heartbroken to withdraw from nationals after feeling sick: “Over the last 48hrs I progressively became slower, weak & sluggish… I thought it was the usual competition nerves and maybe allergies but after yesterday’s performance & the last two days of practices not feeling like myself at all I had a sinking feeling it was something more.”
And in part of her Instagram post that was later deleted, she said, ““To know I was competing while sick with covid is awful.”
U.S. Figure Skating will announce the United States’ two Olympic pairs teams on Sunday, and Frazier and Knierim said they have petitioned to be selected for the Beijing Games.