Olympic skater Alysa Liu says leaving competition ‘the best decision I ever made’

You might have thought you’d have many years to see Alysa Liu skate.

Instead, her appearance with the Stars on Ice tour in San Jose on Sunday is one of the dwindling chances to see the East Bay native perform.

Liu, just 16 and with one Olympics to her name, announced on Instagram in March that she is retiring from figure skating.

“I made the decision for myself a while ago, way before the Olympics,” Liu said in a recent phone interview. “My only goal was to go to the Olympics.

“I’m only 16. I want to do other stuff.”

It was a startling decision for a young skater who often was called “the future” of American skating. She was the youngest U.S. champion in history, winning the title at 13 and again at 14. She was the youngest female to land a triple axel internationally and the first U.S. woman to land a quadruple jump in competition.

But “the future” wasn’t what she wanted for her future.

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Liu’s is the type of personal choice that we’re not accustomed to seeing.

The typical story line is that the ingenue becomes internationally competitive, makes an Olympics (or Grand Slam or whatever the top competition is), participates, sticks around, gets older, maybe doesn’t know when to leave. The forces invested in the athlete — parents, coaches, sponsors, federations, peers — make an individual decision to give up the expensive,…

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