While it won’t be official until Saturday, it would be shocking if the three-woman U.S. figure skating team for the 2022 Winter Olympics doesn’t include Mariah Bell, Karen Chen, and Alysa Liu.
Bell and Chen finished 1-2 at this week’s U.S. Championships in Nashville, Tennessee, while Liu – who tested positive for Covid-19 after her third-place short program – has produced the most consistent results of any U.S. skater in recent months. Figure skating’s Olympic selection committee will consider all results from the last year, starting with the January 2021 U.S. Championships.
The third-place finisher in Nashville – 14-year-old Isabeau Levito – would be in the conversation for the Olympic team, if only she was old enough to make the cut.
The rest of the field appears too far back, especially after 2021 U.S. silver medalist Amber Glenn struggled in her short program and withdrew, also due to a positive Covid-19 test result.
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Competing in her ninth national championship, Bell won her first U.S. title. At age 25, she also became the oldest U.S. women’s figure skating champion since 1927. In Beijing, she’s on track to become the oldest figure skater to represent the U.S. in women’s singles since 34-year-old Theresa Weld-Blanchard competed in her third Olympics in 1928.
“I’m 25 so it’s not like I’m ancient, but in skating, I kind of am,” Bell laughed. “I want it to be a known fact that skating doesn’t end at a certain age.”
The 22-year-old Chen is also on the older side of figure skating’s age spectrum, especially given that the current Olympic podium favorites are three Russian teenagers.
“I remember the first time someone asked me what it was like to be a veteran and I was kind of shocked because, in my mind, I was still so young,” she said. “I honestly just truly love skating… every single day, I’m just happy to be on the ice.”n.
The 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships continue on Saturday with the men’s short program (4pm ET, NBC), pairs’ free skate (7pm ET, USA), and free dance (8:30pm ET, USA). The three U.S. women nominated to Team USA will be officially be announced during NBC’s coverage of the men’s short program on Saturday.
2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships – Women’s Results:
- Mariah Bell, 216.25
- Karen Chen, 213.85
- Isabeau Levito, 210.75
- Gabriella Izzo, 188.11
- Lindsay Thorngren, 186.38
- Audrey Shin, 180.58
- Kate Wang, 178.2
- Hanna Harrell, 175.66
- Starr Andrews, 173.04
- Gracie Gold, 171.92
- Jill Heiner, 171.54
- Sierra Venetta, 164.24
- Rena Ikenishi, 158.69
- Wren Warne-Jacobsen, 143.39
Alysa Liu (withdrew)
Amber Glenn (withdrew)
NBC Olympics researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.
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Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC