Alysa Liu claims first senior title outside the USA at Lombardia Trophy

American figure skater Liu makes sensational senior bow abroad by winning both the short program and the free skate in Italy to claim her maiden senior title.

By Ken Browne
Picture by USA TODAY Sports

Alysa Liu has shone in her first ever senior figure skating competition outside the United States by winning the Challenger Series Lombardia Trophy in Bergamo, Italy, on Saturday (11 September).

Liu was different class in the free skate on Saturday scoring 144.93 to give her a clear victory with a total haul of 219.24 points, over 30 points ahead of nearest rival Ekaterina Kurakova from Poland.

Kurakova finished in second place on 187.65 points total after she scored 126.14 on her free skate and 61.51 for her short program.

And there was more joy for the U.S. as Audrey Shin claimed third place with 172.46 points overall.

Liu's free followed up on a stunning short program on Friday where she scored 74.31 points - over 12 points clear of Switzerland's Alexia Paganini in second.

Paganini finished off the podium in fourth after a troubled free skate where she fell on her triple Lutz, under rotated a triple loop and couldn't complete her final combination cleanly either.

With ROC skaters busy back home at the Russia senior test skate event, and no Japanese among the field of 32-skaters either, it was a chance for other skaters to grab the limelight.

The Lombardia Trophy is the first of ten events of the 2021-22 Figure Skating Challenger Series. The series is considered the second tier of international senior events, ranked below the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating which gets underway in October.

Alysa Liu sparkles in Italy

It was a Challenger Series debut to remember from Liu, who's competing in the seniors' category internationally for the first time this season.

Her senior debut at an international event came last month, when she won the inaugural Cranberry Cup International, held at the Skating Club of Boston.

The 16-year-old skated to Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in her free skate on Saturday and jumped a triple Axel, triple Lutz, triple loop, double Axel-Euler-triple Salchow combination before another triple Lutz-triple toe combination, landing a triple flip-double toe and a triple flip too.

It was a dazzling array of jumps where only minor under rotations on her opening triple Axel and the triple toe in combination were the only errors.

Saturdday's free-flowing free skate followed Friday's impressive short program, where she put down a clean skate to Gypsy Dance from Don Quixote by Ludwig Minkus.

Liu looked relaxed and happy, her work with new coaches Jeremy Abbott, a four-time U.S. national champion, and Italian Olympian Massimo Scali, clearly paying off.

The two-time reigning national champion is the first female skater to land a triple Axel and a quadruple jump in the same program, and in Bergamo looked completely unphased by the hype surrounding her.

When does Alysa Liu skate next?

Next up for the USA's rising star is the Nebelhorn Trophy in two weeks time where an Olympic qualification spot is on the line, the teenager aiming to secure a third Olympic place for Team USA, with two already safe and likely to be filled by Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell at Beijing 2022.

READ: Figure skating prodigy Alysa Liu all in ahead of first senior international year in Olympic season

Alysa Liu after her short program at the Junior Grand Prix Final