US Figure Skating Olympics Team 2022: Highlighting Favorites to Earn a Spot

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2022

US Figure Skating Olympics Team 2022: Highlighting Favorites to Earn a Spot

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    At the conclusion of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships that run through Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee, the U.S. Figure Skating International Committee will name the full team that will represent the United States for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

    One of the biggest story out of the women's team is the withdrawal of Alysa Liu due to a positive Covid-19 test.

    The 16-year-old was in third place after the women's short program on Thursday before having to withdraw.

    Now, the two-time U.S. champion will have to petition and wait to see if she can still make the three-woman team.

    While the team will be named later today, it looks as if Mariah Bell, who took home the gold after becoming the oldest women's figure skating national champion at 25 years-old, and Karen Chen, who came in second place with the silver.

    Isabeau Levito finished third, but is too young to compete in Beijing at 14, leaving the door open for Liu.

    On the men's side, favorite Nathan Chen has two things on his mind: winning his sixth consecutive national title and securing his second trip to the Olympic Games.

    Looking to foil Chen's goals are Vincent Zhou, who beat Chen three months ago, and Jason Brown.

    Here's a quick look at the favorites to punch their tickets to Beijing.

Nathan Chen

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    GEOFF ROBINS/Getty Images

    Nathan Chen, with five consecutive national titles under his belt, has been virtually unbeatable on U.S. Soil.

    But for Chen, success on the world Olympic stage still eludes him.

    He placed fifth overall in PyeongChang back in 2018, despite logging the highest scored men's figure skating program with 215.08 after attempting six quads and landing five.

    He did win a bronze medal in the team event, so he didn't leave empty handed.

    Now, the Salt Lake City native is poised to make his return the Olympic stage and he is looking to win men's free skating outright and bring home the gold.

Mariah Bell

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    All eyes were on Alysa Liu at the start of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Thursday, but it's Mariah Bell that has captured fans' hearts.

    At 25, she's the oldest to win the gold and she is certainly on her way to Beijing.

    Should she make the team, she'll also be the oldest women's singles skater to make any Olympic team in 94 years.

    With all of that history being made, it's the kind of breakthrough that can sustain and carry over, making Bell the kind of story that the Olympics were made for.

    While it's likely that she'll be joined by Karen Chen, who placed 11th in 2018 and Liu, the 16-year old phenom.

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc

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    Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press

    There are two slots available for Team USA in the pairs, and there three strong teams vying for those spots.

    Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc set a U.S. Figure Skating Championships record with 79.39 points and are looking to make their first Olympic team.

    The previous record, 77.46 points, was held by Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, who won last year's championships.

    Knierim and Frazier dropped out of the competition the latter tested positive for Covid-19.

    They are still strong contenders for making the team, though, due to peition.

    Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson are in second place behind Cain-Gribble and LeDuc with 77.48 points, but will likely have to overtake them to get to Beijing.