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Grand Prix Final broadcast schedule

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The world’s best figure skaters gather in Marseille this week, 14 months before the Olympics, to provide an early look at Pyeongchang frontrunners.

The top six per discipline from the fall Grand Prix season compete in the Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual event after the world championships in early spring.

This year’s fields include Sochi Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu plus the reigning world champions in each discipline — Javier Fernandez, Yevgenia Medvedeva, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford in pairs and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron in ice dance.

A U.S. woman failed to qualify for the first time since 2008, while the U.S. sends two men — Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon — for the first time since 2009. The U.S. also has three ice dance couples, led by world medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates.

The full fields are here.

Icenetwork.com, Universal HD and NBCSN will provide coverage starting Thursday.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Grand Prix Final Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Network
Thursday Pairs short program 1:45 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Thursday Men’s short program 3:10 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Thursday Thursday highlights 9:30-11:30 p.m. UniHD
Friday Short dance 1:05 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Friday Pairs free skate 2:20 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Friday Women’s short program 3:45 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Friday Friday highlights 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. UniHD
Saturday Free dance 10:45 a.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Women’s free skate 1 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Men’s free skate 2:20 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Pairs free skate 8:30-9:30 p.m. UniHD
Sunday Highlights 8:30-11 p.m. NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live

Chinese lead, star pairs struggle in world championships short program

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China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong recorded the highest pairs short program score in the world since the 2014 Olympics, topping the world championships field in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Two-time defending world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada and Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov are well behind in seventh and 13th place, respectively.

Sui and Han, in just their second event this season, tallied a personal-best 81.23 points.

They lead by 1.39 over Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot going into the free skate Thursday (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are in third.

The Chinese will go for their first world title after giving up a short-program lead last year and taking silver for a second straight time.

Full worlds short program results are here.

PREVIEWS: Men | Women | Pairs | Dance | TV schedule

Sui and Han missed the fall season after Sui underwent right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring. They returned at the Four Continents Championships in February and posted personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

Duhamel and Radford, looking to become the first pair to three-peat in 40 years, came in slowed by Radford’s hip injury suffered in the last week. Radford was off-balance on his triple toe loop landing Wednesday. Duhamel’s hand touched the ice on her throw triple Lutz landing.

They scored 72.67 points, which is 8.56 behind Sui and Han.

Stolbova and Klimov both suffered falls in their short program and scored 65.59, qualifying for the 16-pair free skate by four points. The Russian champions missed the autumn season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury.

The top U.S. pair was Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, who posted a personal-best 72.17 points for eighth place. The husband-and-wife pair are competing for the second time this season after Scimeca Knierim’s serious abdominal injury.

U.S. champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier suffered two falls and placed 20th, matching the worst U.S. pairs finish in worlds history. They did not qualify for the 16-pair free skate.

Therefore, the Knierims must finish 10th or better after the free skate to ensure the U.S. earns two pairs places at the 2018 Olympics.

Pairs is the U.S.’ weakest discipline. The last U.S. medal in pairs at worlds came in 2002. The last Olympic medal was in 1988.

North Korean pair Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik placed 14th in the short program, the highest of any pair expected to compete for one of four final Olympic quota spots in September.

North Korea sent no athletes to the Sochi Olympics, and it’s not a guarantee it will qualify any athletes for PyeongChang, or if it will send athletes to South Korea in February. But Ryom and Kim’s personal best by nearly 11 points on Wednesday was very encouraging.

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MORE: U.S. pairs skater back from life-threatening condition

Pairs Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 81.23
2. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 79.84
3. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 79.37
8. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Christopher Knierim (USA) — 72.17
20. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 56.23

Missy Franklin out due to shoulder surgeries

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Missy Franklin is sidelined from swimming competition for an undisclosed period of time to recover from surgeries on both of her shoulders due to bursitis, according to her social media.

“This is what’s best for me to come stronger than ever,” was posted on Franklin’s Instagram. “I’m so far from being done with this sport.”

The five-time Olympic champion was diagnosed in early January following an MRI, underwent surgeries that month and has returned to limited training.

Franklin, who has not raced since the Rio Olympics, will not compete in the next USA Swimming Pro Series meet in Mesa, Ariz., in two weeks.

Her return date is not set.

The U.S. Championships are in June in Indianapolis and serve as a qualifying meet for the world championships in Budapest in July.

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