Gracie Gold

World Figure Skating Championships schedule

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The U.S. is sending 15 skaters to the World Championships this week, but the key number is 13.

In all four disciplines — men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance — the top two American finishers’ results will be combined for a number that will determine how many spots the U.S. receives for next year’s World Championships.

If that number is 13 or fewer, the U.S. gets three spots in that discipline. Like in 2013, when Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold finished fifth and sixth (a combined 11th) to earn the U.S. three women’s spots not only at the Olympics, but also at this week’s World Championships in Saitama, Japan.

Wagner and Gold headline the U.S. team this week. They’re joined by Polina Edmunds, making the women’s roster the same as it was in Sochi, where Gold was fourth, Wagner seventh and Edmunds ninth.

The rest of the U.S. team is Jeremy Abbott and Max Aaron, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir and Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay and ice dancers Maia and Alex ShibutaniMadison Chock and Evan Bates and Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton.

The fields are missing the Olympic women’s, pairs and ice dance gold medalists, plus every 2013 world champion, creating an opportunity for new stars to emerge.

Previews: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Here’s the schedule of events in Saitama (all times Eastern):

Tuesday: Pairs short program (9 p.m.)
Wednesday: Men’s short program (3 a.m.)
Wednesday: Pairs free skate (10:30 p.m.)
Thursday: Women’s short program (2:55 a.m.)
Thursday: Short dance (9:50 p.m.)
Friday: Men’s free skate (4 a.m.)
Friday: Free dance (11:30 p.m.)
Saturday: Women’s free skate (4:15 a.m.)

Icenetwork.com will provide live online coverage to its Season Pass subscribers.

Universal Sports Network will broadcast same-day coverage from Wednesday-Saturday from 1-3 p.m. ET each day. 2011 U.S. champion Ryan Bradley and 2006 Olympic silver medalist Tanith Belbin will be analysts alongside play-by-play voice Steve Schlanger.

NBC will air a World Championships recap show April 13 from 3-6 p.m. ET.

Russian Olympic champions out of worlds

Kerri Walsh Jennings eyes 2020 Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17:  Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States celebrates a point during the Beach Volleyball Women's Bronze medal match against Larissa Franca Maestrini and Talita Rocha of Brazil on day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Beach Volleyball Arena on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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If Kerri Walsh Jennings had to decide now, she’s in for Tokyo 2020.

In recent weeks, Walsh Jennings has warmed more and more to trying for a sixth Olympics at age 41, after taking bronze with April Ross in Rio. In 2020, the three-time Olympic champion will be older than any previous Olympic beach or indoor volleyball player, according to Olympic historians.

In December, Walsh Jennings told an NCAA women’s indoor volleyball championship crowd that her kids’ first words to her after she came home from Rio were, “You didn’t win gold,” according to Flovolleyball. Her response? “Tokyo 2020, kids.”

On Jan. 10, a tweet from Walsh Jennings’ account tagged “TokyoGold2020” and “AllIn.” Her Twitter bio now includes, “aspiring to be MY best #Tokyo2020.”

Then in an interview with Seth Davis published Wednesday, she reaffirmed it.

“You’re asking me right this moment. I’m in to go win a gold medal [in 2020],” she said. “That’s like, period, end of statement with regard to me. I’m a family of five, and this journey requires total commitment from not just myself but my kids and my husband and so many other people. So I need to get on the same page with my hubby because it’s a lonely life when I’m traveling the world. He’s an athlete as well [beach volleyball player Casey Jennings], but he’s retired from the international scene, so he’s home. If I go four more years, which I want to, I need to consider lots of things, but, yes, I’m in.”

Walsh Jennings and Ross are set to make their 2017 season debut in Fort Lauderdale next month. Previously, Ross was planning to take 2017 off to have a child.

MORE: U.S. beach volleyball Olympians open season with new partners

President Obama honors Olympians in final press conference (video)

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Barack Obama has honored Olympians in his final days as president, including specifically naming gold medalists Simone Biles and Michael Phelps on Wednesday.

At his final presidential press conference, Obama brought up the Olympics when asked if he thought there would be another black president.

His answer at the 41:45 mark in the above video:

“I think I’ve used this analogy before. We killed it in the Olympics in Brazil. And Michelle and I, we always have our — the Olympic team here. And it’s a lot of fun, first of all, just because, you know, anytime you’re meeting somebody who’s the best at anything, it’s impressive.

And these mostly very young people are all just so healthy looking, and they just beam and exude fitness and health. And so we have a great time talking to them. But they are of all shapes, sizes, colors. You know, the genetic diversity that is on display is remarkable.

And if you look at Simone Biles, and then you look at a Michael Phelps, they’re completely different. And it’s precisely because of those differences that we’ve got people here who can excel at any sport.

And by the way, more than half of our medals [in Rio] came from women. And the reason is is because we had the foresight several decades ago with something called Title IX to make sure that women got opportunities in sports, which is why our women compete better, because they have more opportunities than folks in other countries.

I use that as a metaphor, and if in fact we continue to keep opportunity open to everybody, then yeah, we’re going to have a woman president. We’re going to have a Latino president. We’ll have a Jewish president, a Hindu president. Who knows who we’re going to have.

I suspect we’ll have a whole bunch of mixed up presidents at some point that nobody really knows what to call ’em.”

MORE: Obama appoints four Olympic medalists to positions