Patience is a virtue that not everyone holds (myself included). Figure skating champion Alysa Liu, however, wholeheartedly possesses the noble trait. On Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, the 13-year-old athlete left Detroit as the youngest women’s champion of an individual title at this year’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Though it was her flawless triple-axel that not only locked in her big win, but also beat the record set by figure-skating legend Tara Lipinski back in 1997, Alysa Liu's impressive U.S. Figure Skating Championships victory clearly hasn't gone to her head, as her humble mindset about her success proves that she's more than just a talented athlete; she also has a good head on her shoulders.
They say good things come to those who wait, and the U.S. Olympic women’s figure skating team has been waiting for a star like Liu since the last time they clinched a championship title in 2006. NBC Sports called Liu a “skating prodigy,” and during an interview with the outlet back in December of 2018, U.S. Figure Skating’s international committee chair, Samuel Auxier, made it very clear that Liu was one to watch, not only because of the confidence she has in her talent, but also because of her unwavering passion for the sport.
“Having judged and watched the Junior Grand Prixes, it was clear our skaters competing their first time in them were often very intimidated by the Russian and Japanese ladies,” Auxier said of the Grand Prix Final competitions that were being held in Vancouver at the time. “At first, [Liu] was amazed by the Russian ladies, but then [she] wanted to get out there and show them her triple Axels.”
Clearly Liu’s enthusiasm for her sport didn't waver in the weeks leading up to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 25. Per TIME’s report, during the short program on Thursday, Jan. 24, Liu’s triple axel move landed her in second place behind 20-year-old figure skater Bradie Tennell, but during the long program on Friday, Jan. 25, Tennell took a fall during her routine, offering Liu an opportunity to skate her way into first place. Landing not one, but two triple axels to “Witches of Eastwick” by John Williams, the youngest women’s champ shed tears of joy when the judges announced her gold-medal score.
Liu isn't unfamiliar with breaking records and taking names: In August of 2018, per Refinery29, Liu became the youngest woman to land a triple axel in an international competition — though you'd never know it from her excitement to just be able to participate in these events and follow her dreams. “I was just happy that I beat my personal record, and I did a clean long program,” Liu told TIME after coming in first on Friday.
Though the flashy new title makes Liu a role model for anyone aspiring to compete, her outlook on success in general is what makes this teenager someone that everyone could look up to and learn from, no matter what goals you’ve set for yourself. Of course, becoming the youngest woman to place first in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself, and one that Liu should be unbelievably proud of herself for achieving at only 13 years old. But, if you ask me, it's the way in which Liu somehow remains level-headed about it all that's truly inspiring.
Unfortunately, as TIME pointed out, because of the age restrictions in effect, Liu will not be eligible to compete in the Olympics until 2022, but rest assured, this champion isn’t the least bit concerned. Good things come to those who wait, after all, and Liu seems to be just fine taking the next three years to practice and perfect her routine. "I’m not too worried about [waiting],” Liu told TIME. “Because I get more time to work on my jumps, skating skills, spins, and just trying to learn more.”