Alysa Liu just established herself as one to watch in the figure skating scene. The 13-year-old became the youngest winner of an individual title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit on Friday.
Upon receiving her score, her jaw dropped and she immediately began crying tears of joy.
“I was just happy that I beat my personal record, and I did a clean long program,” Liu said, according to TIME.
Liu received a score of 217.51 — a few points ahead of the second place winner and last year’s champion Bradie Tennell, who finished with a score of 213.59. Mariah Bell came in third.
The record for the youngest women’s champion at nationals was previously held by Tara Lipinski, who won in 1997 when she was 14 years old. She is now a commentator with NBC and seemed more than happy to give up her title to Liu. “Records are made to be broken,” Lipinski said after Liu’s win, per TIME. “It is quite an honor that she is the one to do it. What a phenomenal talent.”
Liu’s age wasn’t the only record-breaking part of her performance. She also became the first American woman to successfully perform two triple axels in the long program at nationals, as well as the first to land a triple axel in the short program at national championships.
The 4-foot, 7-inch skater (she’s so short her runner-ups had to help her on to the podium during the ceremony) is no stranger to firsts. Eyes have been on her since she became the youngest woman to land a triple axel in an international competition back in August. Her performance then and at Friday’s event have the industry hopeful that she can bring in more American wins on the international stage.
“To handle the pressure like she did, and to push the technical envelope as far as she’s pushing it, at such a young age, is truly mind-blowing,” Lipinski said. “I think she’s the future of U.S. ladies’ figure skating.”
However, the same thing that has Liu making headlines is the same thing that stands in her way. Her age will not allow her to compete at international senior events until the 2022 Olympic season, according to Deadspin. While she might not be able to make her Olympic debut until the next winter games in February 2022 in Beijing, Liu is unphased.
“I’m not too worried about that part,” she said. “Because I get more time to work on my jumps, skating skills, spins, and just trying to learn more.”