Alysa Liu, 13, becomes youngest ever U.S. national figure skating champion

By Sophie Lewis

/ CBS News

Landing two triple axels at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Friday, 13-year-old Alysa Liu made history as the youngest ever national figure skating champion.

Liu was overcome with emotion when she saw her score, covering her face with her hands and crying. "I was just happy that I beat my personal record, and I did a clean long program," Liu said.

Watch out world. Alysa Liu has arrived. 🌟🥇#USChamps19 pic.twitter.com/PeYd7t0fbG

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) January 26, 2019

When she went to receive her medal, second place finisher and 2018 champion Bradie Tennell helped the 4-foot-7 champ onto the podium.

Liu had been in second place behind Tennell after the short program Thursday. But Tennell fell, attempting a triple lutz during her long program, and Liu — who skated immediately after — skated a near-perfect routine.

Liu received a score of 217.51. Tennell finished second at 213.59, and Mariah Bell was third with 212.40.

"I'm not gonna keep this medal. I'm gonna give it to my dad because he deserves it more than me," Liu said in a U.S. Figure Skating Instagram Story.

Tara Lipinski previously held the record for youngest women's champion at nationals, winning at age 14 in 1997. Scott Allen was also 14 when he won in 1964. Lipinski, now a commentator, was there Friday to witness to astonishing moment Liu beat her record.

"Records are made to be broken," Lipinski said afterward. "It is quite an honor that she is the one to do it. What a phenomenal talent. 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. I think she's the future of U.S. ladies' figure skating."

View this post on Instagram

Can’t wait to celebrate this years Halloween!!! I am so excited!!! 🎃

A post shared by Alysa Liu (@alysaxliu) on

This isn't the first time Liu has made figure skating history. In August 2018, she became the youngest woman to land a triple axel in international competition at age 12. But her age has proven to be a challenge — under the current age restriction, she's not even eligible to compete at worlds until 2022.

"I'm not too worried about that part," Liu said. "Because I get more time to work on my jumps, skating skills, spins, and just trying to learn more."

While she cannot qualify for world championships just yet, she will be eligible for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, when she will be 16 years old. The U.S. hasn't won an Olympic medal in women's figure skating since 2006 — but perhaps Liu could change that.

Alysa Liu holds her gold medal after winning the 2019 Senior Ladies Championship during the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

First published on January 26, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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