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Four Continents Figure Skating Championships schedule, preview

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Yuzuru HanyuPatrick Chan and U.S. champion Nathan Chen headline the Four Continents Championships at the 2018 Olympic venue, on NBC Sports this week.

Four Continents brings together the world’s best skaters outside of Europe, which already had its own continental championships in January.

It doubles as the Olympic test event, making it a tune-up not only for the world championships next month but also for PyeongChang 2018.

The men’s field includes the 2014 Olympic gold and silver medalists, Hanyu and Chan, plus the American Chen, who outscored both of them at the Grand Prix Final free skate in December. And Japan’s Shoma Uno and China’s Jin Boyang, the bronze medalists at the last two major international competitions.

The field includes every worlds medal contender save two-time reigning world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.

If Chen wins this week, skating like he did at the U.S. Championships in January, he has to be considered the world championships favorite. It’s a tall order, though.

On the women’s side, the U.S. team is made up of national champion Karen Chen, plus Mariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu, who placed third and fourth at nationals. U.S. silver medalist Ashley Wagner is skipping Four Continents as usual to prepare for worlds.

The favorite is Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond. Another Canadian, Gabrielle Daleman, and Japanese Wakaba Higuchi and Mai Mihara are also in the medal mix, along with the U.S. trio. Japanese champion Satoko Miyahara withdrew last week with a hip injury.

The ice dance field is loaded with the top couple this season, 2010 Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, plus the three best U.S. couples.

Maia and Alex ShibutaniMadison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue made up half of the top six at the 2016 World Championships, including silver for the Shibutanis and bronze for Chock and Bates.

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, the top U.S. pair in international competition the previous two seasons, will compete for the first time this season at Four Continents. They’ve been out due to her unspecified abdominal issue that lasted from April to November and required three surgeries.

They were cleared for full training a week before the U.S. Championships, opted not to compete at nationals and successfully petitioned for a place on the Four Continents and worlds teams.

They’ll go up against pairs that went one-two at the last two worlds, Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford and China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Four Continents Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Network
Wednesday Short dance 9 p.m. Icenetwork.com*
Thursday Pairs short program 12:15 a.m. Icenetwork.com*
Thursday Women’s short program 4:30 a.m. Icenetwork.com*
Thursday Short dance 12 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday Pairs short program 2 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday Women’s short program 4 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday Free dance 11:30 p.m. Icenetwork.com*
Friday Men’s short program 3:45 a.m. Icenetwork.com*
Friday Free dance 12 p.m. NBCSN
Friday Men’s short program 1:30 p.m. NBCSN
Saturday Pairs free skate 12 a.m. Icenetwork.com*
Saturday Women’s free skate 4 a.m. Icenetwork.com*
Saturday Pairs free skate 8 a.m. NBCSN
Saturday Women’s free skate 2:30 p.m. NBC
Saturday Men’s free skate 9 p.m. Icenetwork.com*
Saturday Men’s free skate 11 p.m. NBCSN

*Live stream for subscribers

Gracie Gold to miss U.S. Championships, Olympics

Gracie Gold
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Figure skater Gracie Gold will miss the rest of the season — including the Olympics — as she continues to undergo treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

“I have not had adequate training time in order to perform at the level at which I want to,” Gold said in a statement Friday. “It pains me to not compete in this Olympic season, but I know it’s for the best. I wish everyone the best of luck and will be cheering you all on. I want to thank everyone for the ongoing love and support. It means the world to me.”

Gold, a Sochi Olympic team bronze medalist and two-time U.S. champion, announced Sept. 1 that she was taking time away from figure skating to seek unspecified professional help.

On Oct. 13, she announced she was in treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety and would skip the fall Grand Prix season.

The 22-year-old last competed at the U.S. Championships in January, placing a disastrous sixth.

Gold, the top American woman at the Sochi Olympics in fourth place, has not been the same skater since dropping from first after the 2016 World Championships short program to finish fourth, again just missing her first individual global medal.

She considered skipping the fall 2016 Grand Prix season, talking openly about physical struggles and even depression in that offseason.

She split from coach Frank Carroll after that sixth-place nationals. Gold then announced in February that she moved to Michigan to train under new coaches Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein.

Then on Sept. 1, Gold announced she was taking a leave.

“My passion for skating and training remains strong,” Gold said in the reported Sept. 1 statement. “However, after recent struggles on and off the ice, I realize I need to seek some professional help and will be taking some time off while preparing for my Grand Prix assignments. This time will help me become a stronger person, which I believe will be reflected in my skating performances as well.”

The favorites for three U.S. Olympic women’s spots are 2014 Olympian Ashley Wagner, 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, reigning U.S. champion Karen Chen and U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

The Olympic team will be named after nationals in San Jose in January.

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MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Javier Fernandez rebounds to lead Grand Prix France (video)

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez was back at his best, landing two quadruple jumps to top the Grand Prix France short program on Friday.

Fernandez, who was sixth at his opening Grand Prix two weeks ago with a reported stomach bug, tallied 107.86 points in Grenoble. It’s the second-best score of his career.

The 2015 and 2016 World champion goes into Saturday’s free skate with a 13.94-point lead over Shoma Uno of Japan. Uno fell on his opening quad flip attempt.

Uno went into France as the clear favorite, the only man to break 300 total points this season. He did it at both of his competitions this fall.

Earlier Friday, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond led a group of favorites who topped the short programs for the women, pairs and ice dance. All of the free skates are Saturday.

GP FRANCE: Full Results | TV Schedule

Both U.S. men fell Friday, not helping their cases for the three-man Olympic team.

Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, fell on his opening jump combination. He failed to build on his personal-best free skate from his last competition, where he landed three quads to claim bronze at Cup of China.

U.S. silver medalist Vincent Zhou crashed on both quadruple jump attempts, two weeks after falling three times between two programs at his Grand Prix debut.

Zhou, 17 and the world junior champion, has the jumps to easily make the three-man U.S. Olympic team. But those big mistakes allow the likes of Jason Brown and Adam Rippon to pass him.

“To say the least, my performance was dismal,” was posted on Zhou’s Instagram. “It was not a representation of how I train or who I am. Smiling and waving while my heart is breaking is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I have been following my Olympic dream for as long as I can remember, fighting, being set back, conquering obstacles, and experiencing the ups and downs of striving to better myself every single day. I am capable of so much more. I am a fighter. I fully believe that I can and will draw on my spirit, inner strength, and faith to my words to perform much better in the future.”

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MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Internationaux de France
Men’s Short Program
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 107.86
2. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 93.92
3. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 91.51
8. Max Aaron (USA) — 78.64
10. Vincent Zhou (USA) — 66.12