Mariah Bell

ROC Denied Podium Sweep; Mariah Bell Stuns in Free Skate, But Alysa Liu Was Even Better

Mariah Bell is almost 10 years older than Kamila Valieva and teammate Alysa Liu -- and making her long-awaited Olympic figure skating debut in Beijing

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At 25 years old, U.S. figure skater Mariah Bell made her long-awaited Olympic debut at the 2022 Beijing Games earlier this week, becoming the oldest U.S. women's singles skater at the competition since 1928.

And she took the final by storm, scoring a 134.85 in her "Hallelujah" free skate for a total of 202.30 total -- enough to put her in fourth place with about a half-dozen skaters to go.

That score later slid her to 10th, with embattled ROC star Kamila Valieva -- who has earned the continued ire of Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski in the broadcast box over her doping scandal -- finished off the podium with a free skate score of 141.93.

See the full replay here.

It was enough for a fourth-place finish but not sufficient to beat Japan's Kaori Sakamoto. Sakamoto's 153.29 free skate score put her total at 233.13, a few points over Valieva's 224.09.

Anna Shcherbakova won the silver medal with a free skate score of 175.75 (255.95 total), while teammate Alexandra Trusova earned bronze (177.13 free skate score, total score of 251.73 in the event).

USA star Alysa Liu, the youngest athlete representing Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics, finished in seventh place, earning a 139.45 in the free skate for a total score of 208.95, while Cornell University grad Karen Chen was more in the middle-of-the-pack in standings. She scored a 115.82 on her free skate for a total of 179.83. Her short program score suffered because of a fall.

Bell overcame a fall on the triple-triple during her opening combination to finish with a score of 65.38 in the women's short program.

That placed her second at the time behind Anastasia Gubanova of Georgia (65.40). The top 24 skaters in the field of 30 advanced to Thursday's finals. Valieva earned the first-place spot with a score of 82.16.

You wouldn't exactly think of 25 as "old" but being the oldest women's singles skater at the Olympics in nearly 100 years isn't the only age distinction she has. Bell also became the oldest woman in 95 years to win the national championship.

Bell, a Colorado homer who was born in Oklahoma, finally broke through at nationals in her ninth appearance, winning both the short program and free skate to earn her long-awaited Olympic trip.

Though it's her first, she says she's more than ready.

“I think there’s a lot to say about experience," said Bell, whose score of 216.25 points at nationals was far behind the world-record 272.71 set by Russia’s Kamila Valieva this season. “You can tap into experience and really use it to your advantage in a lot of situations, and I definitely have that."

Bell started skating when she was just 3 years old. She has one sister, Morgan, who also competes, and has been coached by figure skating icon Adam Rippon.

Learn more about the USA figure skating team featuring in the Olympics here. And check the schedule for all your favorite skating stars.

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