Yuna Kim

What to watch on Day 13 of Sochi Olympics

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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Thursday, Feb. 20. A complete list of every Thursday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Nordic combined team event, 3 a.m./6 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE EVENT LIVE

The U.S. won silver in this four years ago. Half of the four-man team is back, including the only U.S. individual Olympic Nordic combined champion, Bill Demong, and Todd Lodwick. Lodwick is in his U.S. Winter record sixth Olympics. They’re joined by brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher.

It would be a surprise to see the Americans return to the podium, given their best individual finish in two events here is 20th.

Germany and Norway are the favorites for gold.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Men’s ski cross final, 5:41 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Ski cross, essentially snowboard cross on skis, debuted at the 2010 Olympics. The U.S. fielded two men four years ago, veteran Olympic Alpine skiers Daron Rahlves and Casey Puckett, who were eliminated before the quarterfinals.

American John Teller is a better medal threat this year, having been in the top 12 of the World Cup standings the last four seasons and won a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships.

Canadian Chris Del Bosco is a good story, having fallen in the 2010 final shortly before the finish while in medal position. Other medal favorites include World Cup leader Swede Victor Oehling Norberg and 2010 silver medalist Austrian Andreas Matt.

Women’s curling gold-medal game, Canada-Sweden, 8:30 a.m. ETCLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Canadian Jennifer Jones hasn’t lost in 10 games, including taking out reigning world champion Brit Eve Muirhead in the semifinals Tuesday. No women’s rink has gone undefeated at a Winter Olympics since women’s curling debuted at the Olympics in 1998.

Sweden beat Canada in the 2010 Olympic final, but that included two different rinks. The Swedes have won the last two Olympic golds.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Figure skating, women’s free skate, 10 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Defending champion Yuna Kim restored order in the short program, posting 74.92 points for a slim .28 lead over Russian surprise Adelina Sotnikova.

The other Russian, 15-year-old team event sensation Yuliya Lipnitskaya, fell to fifth, nearly 10 points back of Kim and nine behind third-place Carolina Kostner of Italy.

All three Americans have varying shots at a medal — Gracie Gold (fourth), Ashley Wagner (sixth) and Polina Edmunds (seventh).

2010 Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada has no shot at a medal. She’s in 16th place after falling on a triple Axel on Wednesday.

Here are start times for notable skaters Thursday:

Mao Asada — 11:41 a.m. ET
Polina Edmunds — 12:42 p.m.
Yuliya Lipnitskaya — 1:06
Carolina Kostner — 1:14
Adelina Sotnikova — 1:22
Gracie Gold — 1:30
Ashley Wagner — 1:38
Yuna Kim — 1:46

Women’s hockey gold-medal game, U.S.-Canada, 12 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The two bitter rivals will face off for the fourth time in five Olympic gold-medal games dating to women’s hockey’s Olympic debut in 1998. Canada has won the last three Olympic gold medals, rendering the current U.S. roster devoid of gold-medal experience.

The U.S. beat Canada in Ottawa for the World Championship in April and won a pre-Olympic series 4-3. Canada, under new coach Kevin Dineen, beat the U.S. 3-2 in a group-play game Feb. 12.

Expect this one to be tight and tense and tears to be shed once it’s all over.

Women’s ski halfpipe final, 12:30 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The U.S. looks to sweep the first Olympic ski halfpipe golds with Maddie Bowman, the two-time reigning Winter X Games champion, going two days after David Wise took the men’s event.

Bowman’s primary competition figures to come from world champion Swiss Virginie Faivre as well as Canadian Roz Groenewoud, who has won medals at the last five X Games.

Americans Angeli VanLaanen and Brita Sigourney are also medal threats.

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Nathan Chen ushers in new era with record-breaking nationals short program

ST PAUL, MN - JANUARY 24: Nathan Chen looks on after competing in the Men's Free Skate at the 2016 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championship on January 24, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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KANSAS CITY — Nathan Chen is in position to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion in 51 years and, as he said Friday night, help put the U.S. “back on the map” in men’s skating.

Chen, 17 and already an Olympic medal contender, tallied 106.39 points in the short program, taking Jeremy Abbott‘s U.S. Championships record of 99.86 from 2014 off the books.

He carries a whopping 17.72-point lead into Sunday’s free skate (4 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Chen, a past U.S. novice and junior champion, landed two quadruple jumps and continued his rise in a breakout senior season after taking silver at the Grand Prix Final last month.

He said after his skate that he’s ready to handle the tag of Olympic medal contender and to go for the world title in Helsinki in March.

“I’m able to stack up against these top-level skaters,” said Chen, who beat the reigning Olympic and world champions in the Grand Prix Final free skate. “That’s something I’ve strived for my whole life. I don’t think it’s something I should necessarily be afraid of, something that I’ve wanted my whole life.”

Chen leads the U.S. Championships over a member of the old guard, Ross Miner, a 25-year-old who made three straight U.S. podiums from 2011-13 but none since.

Vincent Zhou, who turned 16 three months ago, was third, but within .82 of Miner. Full results are here.

“Nathan Chen has always been a few steps ahead of me,” said Zhou, who won the 2013 U.S. junior title and finished fifth at the 2016 World Junior Championships, taking two years off in between to recover from a torn meniscus in his right knee and focus on school. “When he was intermediate, I was just a little preliminary admiring him. Now it feels amazing to start closing the gap.”

The U.S. will send two men to the world championships in two months, selected after Sunday’s free skate, and they likely won’t be the usual names. Neither Chen nor Zhou has been to senior worlds, and Miner’s last appearance was 2013.

The 2016 U.S. champion, Adam Rippon, is not competing this week due to a season-ending broken foot. The 2015 U.S. champion, Jason Brown, is in fourth place, 8.62 behind third-place Zhou. Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, fell twice and tumbled to 12th place Friday.

“It just wasn’t a good day,” Aaron said. “It’s not me.”

There are no more pressure-filled world championships than those one year before the Olympics, where skaters earn Olympic entries for their countries.

“That would definitely be a massive step up that I haven’t prepared for in the fullest, but it would be an absolute honor if I were to be able to go,” Zhou said. “But, for now, I’m setting more of my sights on junior worlds.”

Hopes will mostly be riding with Chen, who has a shot to become the first U.S. men’s medalist at an Olympics or worlds since Evan Lysacek took the 2010 Olympic title.

“We’re pushing back up to where we should be,” Chen said of the U.S. men. “We kind of sunk a little bit, but I think me and some of the other skaters coming up at this event will help bring the U.S. back on the map.”

The U.S. Championships continue Saturday with the pairs free skate, free dance and women’s free skate, with coverage starting at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

MORE: Ashley Wagner ‘sick’ of hearing about her age

Men’s Short Program
1. Nathan Chen — 106.39
2. Ross Miner — 88.67
3. Vincent Zhou — 87.85
4. Jason Brown — 79.23
5. Grant Hochstein — 79.10

Maia, Alex Shibutani break U.S. Championships short dance record

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KANSAS CITY — Maia and Alex Shibutani broke the U.S. Championships short dance record held by Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White on Friday.

The defending national champion Shibutanis tallied 82.42 points at Sprint Center, easily taking down the Davis-and-White mark of 80.69 set at the 2014 U.S. Championships.

Scores have been higher this season overall, leading to records in international competitions, too.

“Didn’t know it was a record,” Maia Shibutani said. “It was our strongest performance of the short dance so far this season. That’s exactly what we want to be showing right now before we head to the second half of the season.”

The Shibutanis lead by 2.46 points over 2015 U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates going into Saturday’s free dance (3 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, three-time U.S. bronze medalists, are again third. Full results are here.

U.S. Figure Skating will send three dance couples to the world championships in two months. The Shibutanis, Chock and Bates and Hubbell and Donohue were those three couples the past two seasons.

The U.S. is the world power in ice dance, impressively rising during Davis and White’s break since Sochi.

The Shibutanis took silver and Chock and Bates took bronze at the 2016 World Championships. Hubbell and Donohue made it three U.S. couples in the top six at worlds for the first time since 1955.

Chock and Bates had been the top U.S. couple since the Sochi Olympics up until last year’s U.S. Championships. The Shibutanis have topped Chock and Bates in their last three competitions together.

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani — 82.42
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 79.96
3. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue — 79.72
4. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker — 72.60
5. Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit — 67.17