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Meet the 3 women who will lead Team USA’s women’s figure skating team in Beijing

Skater Karen Chen will be returning to the Winter Games after competing in 2018, while Mariah Bell is making history.
Karen Chen, Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships this week. 
Karen Chen, Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships this week. John David Mercer/Matthew Stockman / John David Mercer/Matthew Stockman

The U.S. Women’s figure skating team for the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 was announced Saturday, revealing the three women who will be leading the charge next month. 

This year, Team USA will feature early stand-outs Mariah Bell, Karen Chen and Alysa Liu.

Lindsay Thorngren, Amber Glenn and Gabriella Izzo will serve as alternates in the event that Bell, Chen or Liu cannot skate, NBC Sports reported.

The team was announced at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which took place in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I’m just so grateful,” Bell told NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce about making Team USA. “It’s something that I’ve been working toward for a very long time. I’m so excited and so honored, and it still doesn’t feel real.”

Mariah Bell skates in the Ladies Free Skate during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Bridgestone Arena on Jan. 7.Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Bell, 25, will be making history as the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s singles skater in nearly 100 years after she already became the oldest women’s national champion after winning a national title on Friday. The skater isn’t letting something as simple as age get in the way of her dreams, though.

“You know what, age is literally a number, it means nothing and if you have a dream, there is no limit on, you know, on the time that you have to achieve that dream for sure,” she said Saturday.

Chen, 22, is returning to the Winter Games after placing 11th during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. She is the first U.S. women’s singles skater to compete to back-to-back Olympics since Sasha Cohen competed in 2002 and 2006.

Karen Chen skates in the Ladies Free Skate during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Bridgestone Arena on Jan. 7.Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

“It honestly means so, so much, especially considering after 2018 I did think about stepping away from the sport but I’m really happy that I didn’t,” Chen said. “I kept chasing my dreams and being as fearless as possible, and here I am.”

This season, Liu, 16, is the highest-ranked American by best international score. She ranks fifth in the world with Russian skaters excluded, as they will not be at the Olympics this season.

Alysa Liu skates in the Ladies Short Program during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Bridgestone Arena on Jan. 6.Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Though her Olympic dreams were nearly thwarted by a positive COVID-19 case on Friday, Jan. 7, the young skater still placed third in the short program in the championship event the day before. Liu was not able to compete in Friday's free skate event, but was able to petition the selection committee to receive the final spot on the team's roster.

Michelle Kwan was the last skater who was able to successfully petition for an Olympic spot after missing the U.S. Championships in 2006, according to NBC Sports.

Much like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last summer, the Winter Games have already been affected by the pandemic. Multiple skaters have received positive COVID-19 tests in the midst of the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships taking place in Nashville, Tennessee.

Glenn, along with pairs team Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, had to withdraw from competing in Nashville due to COVID-19.

The Beijing Winter Olympics will begin with the Opening Ceremony will take place on Friday, Feb. 4 and end on Sunday, Feb. 20.

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