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

Nathan Chen holds off Yuzuru Hanyu to win first Grand Prix

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen opened the Grand Prix season by beating Olympic gold-medal favorite Yuzuru Hanyu.

Chen, 18, held off Hanyu at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, totaling 293.79 points to win by 3.02 over the Japanese megastar.

Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva easily won the women’s title despite a rare fall in her free skate. Medvedeva is undefeated since 2015 Rostelecom Cup.

Full scores are here.

Chen landed four quadruple jumps in a strong but imperfect free skate for his first Grand Prix title in his second senior international season.

“I got a little tired halfway through the program and started faltering a little bit on the second quad toe – that was a big mistake,” Chen said, according to the International Skating Union .”I can’t let things like that happen in the future. But this is my first Grand Prix win, and I’m very happy with that.”

Hanyu outscored Chen in the free skate, but the American benefited from his 5.69-point lead from Friday’s short program.

Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world champion, has never won his opening Grand Prix start in eight tries.

He did three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate rather than the planned five, but did not fall as he did in the short program.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu in three of their last four head-to-head events dating to February. Hanyu got the better of Chen at the most important event — winning the world championships, where the American was sixth.

Also Saturday, two-time world medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance with 189.24 points, sweeping both the short and free programs.

The siblings and U.S. champions have now won four straight Grand Prix titles (not counting the Grand Prix Final).

They won by 4.5 points over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev.

The world’s top two couples were not in the field — Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Russia swept the pairs podium, led by world bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

The top pairs teams from the rest of the world — including world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong — were not in the field.

The Rostelecom Cup women’s free skate is later Saturday.

The Grand Prix season continues next weekend with Skate Canada, headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 293.79
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 290.77
3. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 271.06
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 206.09

Ice Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 189.24
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 184.74
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 179.35
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 148.75

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 224.25
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 204.43
3. Kristina Astakhova/Aleksey Rogonov (RUS) — 199.11
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 170.53

Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule