alissa czisny won the u.s. national championships yesterday. she skated third-from last, in a virtual three-way tie with mirai nagasu and raechel flatt. her performance to "selections from winter into spring," by george winston, a graceful, quietly powerful piece of music that featured a single piano, perfectly showed off her elegance and maturity. she is coming off a major international win - the grand prix title, almost more impressive than the nationals win because it's against competitors around the world.
but what's even more special about alissa is her age: she's 23. she was competing against girls who were almost 10 years younger than her. most ladies in this sport peak early (sometimes too early - see caroline zhang), and lasting from one olympics to another is considered longevity.
but alissa is changing that. she is actually better now than she was as a teenager. as a person in my 20s, i am so happy for her. i have been watching skating almost my entire life - i remember thinking oksana baiul's pink costume at the 1994 lillehammer olympics was the prettiest dress i had ever seen. i have always loved skating, and not because of the jumps or the points. it's the artistry - the way skaters like alissa express themselves through their programs - that i love.
chalk one up for the 20-somethings.