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Grand Prix Final fields, top scores in figure skating season

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The Grand Prix Final in two weeks in Nagoya, Japan, is the biggest figure skating competition this season before the Olympics.

It’s also the single best indicator of PyeongChang Olympic medal prospects.

The event is also the most exclusive in the sport, taking only the top six skaters or couples per discipline from the six-event Grand Prix season that concluded with Skate America this weekend.

The U.S. contingent at this season’s Grand Prix Final is a copy of last season — Nathan ChenAdam Rippon and dance couples of Maia Shibutani and Alex ShibutaniMadison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

The full Grand Prix Final fields, plus the top scores in the world this season:

Grand Prix Final Field
1. Nathan Chen (USA)
2. Shoma Uno (JPN)
3. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS)
4. Sergei Voronov (RUS)
5. Adam Rippon (USA)
6. Jin Boyang (CHN) (injured)
6. Jason Brown (USA)
Notable misses: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN), Javier Fernandez (ESP) and Patrick Chan (CAN).

Top Grand Prix Scores
1. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 301.10 (Skate Canada)
2. Nathan Chen (USA) — 293.79 (Rostelecom Cup)
3. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 290.77 (Rostelecom Cup)
4. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 283.71 (Internationaux de France)
5. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 279.38 (Cup of China)
6. Nathan Chen (USA) — 275.88 (Skate America)
7. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 273.32 (Internationaux de France)
8. Sergei Voronov (RUS) — 271.12 (NHK Trophy)
9. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 271.06 (Rostelecom Cup)
10. Adam Rippon (USA) — 266.45 (Skate America)
12. Adam Rippon (USA) — 261.99 (NHK Trophy)
13. Jason Brown (USA) — 261.14 (Skate Canada)
14. Max Aaron (USA) — 259.69 (Cup of China)
17. Vincent Zhou (USA) — 256.66 (Cup of China)

Grand Prix Final Field
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) (injured)
1. Alina Zagitova (RUS)
2. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)
3. Carolina Kostner (ITA)
4. Maria Sotskova (RUS)
5. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN)
6. Satoko Miyahara (JPN)
Notable misses: Ashley Wagner (USA), Karen Chen (USA), Gabrielle Daleman (CAN)

Top Grand Prix Scores
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 231.21 (Rostelecom Cup)
2. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 224.39 (NHK Trophy)
3. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 215.98 (Rostelecom Cup)
4. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 214.03 (Skate America)
5. Alina Zagitova (RUS) — 213.88 (Cup of China)
6. Alina Zagitova (RUS) — 213.80 (Internationaux de France)
7. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 212.91 (Skate Canada)
8. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 212.52 (Cup of China)
9. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 212.24 (NHK Trophy)
10. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 210.59 (Skate America)
17. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 204.10 (Skate America)
25. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 194.46 (NHK Trophy)
33. Mariah Bell (USA) — 188.56 (Rostelecom Cup)
38. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 183.94 (Skate Canada)
39. Karen Chen (USA) — 182.80 (Skate America)
40. Courtney Hicks (USA) — 182.57 (Skate Canada)

Ice Dance
Grand Prix Final Field
1. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
2. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN)
3. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA)
4. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA)
5. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA)
6. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA)

Top Grand Prix Scores
1. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 201.98 (Internationaux de France)
2. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 200.43 (Cup of China)
3. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 199.86 (Skate Canada)
4. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 198.64 (NHK Trophy)
5. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 194.25 (Skate America)
6. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 190.01 (Skate Canada)
7. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 189.43 (Skate Canada)
8. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 189.24 (Rostelecom Cup)
9. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 188.35 (NHK Trophy)
10. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) — 186.56 (NHK Trophy)
12. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 184.50 (Cup of China)

Grand Prix Final Field
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN)
2. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS)
3. Aljona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER)
4. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN)
5. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS)
6. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN)
Notable misses: None, all the favorites qualified.

Top Grand Prix Scores
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 234.53 (NHK Trophy)
2. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 231.07 (Cup of China)
3. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 224.25 (Rostelecom Cup)
4. Aljona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 223.13 (Skate America)
5. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 222.74 (NHK Trophy)
6. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 222.22 (Skate Canada)
7. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 219.20 (Skate America)
8. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 218.20 (Internationaux de France)
9. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 215.68 (Skate America)
10. Aljona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 215.66 (Skate Canada)
24. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Christopher Knierim (USA) — 192.51 (NHK Trophy)
35. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 172.95 (Skate Canada)

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New generation of male figure skaters owns spotlight at worlds; preview

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Nobody in the men’s field at figure skating worlds owns an Olympic or world title for the first time since 1985. This could lead to the best U.S. men’s results in years.

Yuzuru HanyuJavier Fernandez and Patrick Chan combined to win every gold medal since 2011, but all of them ended their seasons at the Olympics.

This week in Milan, the four leading men, who just competed in their first Olympics, are all 20 years or younger. And that includes two Americans.

Nathan Chen can become the first world singles champion from the U.S. since Evan Lysacek in 2009. Chen and Vincent Zhou could be the first U.S. men to finish in the top five together since Lysacek and Johnny Weir in 2005. Chen, Zhou and Max Aaron could make up the best U.S. trio at a worlds in more than 20 years.

Start with Chen. The 18-year-old said he planned to compete this week regardless of what happened at the Olympics, but after his struggles in the team event and individual short programs, the quad master nailed his free skate, came home to California and said he took maybe one day off of training before this event.

Chen is one of three men in the gold-medal hunt, along with Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan and world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China. While Chen largely struggled at the 2017 Worlds and in PyeongChang, Uno and Jin each made the podium at both events. And each can come close to or equal Chen in quad numbers.

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Zhou, 17, has a chance to become the youngest man to earn a world medal since Hanyu in 2012. Or the first man to win the world junior title one season and make the world senior podium the next since Yevgeny Plushenko in 1997-98.

Zhou is riding momentum. He struggled in the fall and entered nationals in January ranked fifth among Americans for the season. He placed third to make the Olympic team and then landed three clean quads in his Olympic free skate to jump from 12th to sixth.

“I did better there than a lot of people thought I would,” Zhou told NBC Sports research last week. “I knew I was capable of that all season.

“I want to reach my ultimate goal of being Olympic champion, and my best chance is in 2022 … because by 2026 I will probably be old and creaky with four prosthetic limbs.”

Aaron made it to Milan after Olympian Adam Rippon gave up his spot, and the top two alternates (Jason Brown and Ross Miner) both declined. Still, Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, is seeded seventh in the men’s field based on top scores this season.

NBC Sports figure skating researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

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Carolina Kostner the sentimental favorite at figure skating worlds

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Olympic champion Alina Zagitova is without question the favorite at this week’s world figure skating championships, especially after the sprightly Russian’s training partner and rival Yevgenia Medvedeva withdrew because of injury.

She won’t be the sentimental favorite, though.

That would be Carolina Kostner, the ageless Italian star who could be competing at worlds for the last time on home soil. The 2012 champion and six-time world medalist seemed to indicate that retirement could be looming after she finished fifth at the PyeongChang Games, where she was chosen to carry the Italian flag at the Closing Ceremony.

Kostner will have a huge home crowd behind her when the event begins Wednesday in Milan.

“Decisions like that should never be taken in a hot moment. It will come naturally,” said Kostner, who no longer can compete with the sport’s high-fliers when it comes to technical marks, but whose elegant artistry and presentation often make up the difference.

“She is an example of perseverance, of a long-lasting athlete,” Medvedeva said. “I have trouble imagining how someone can stay in that shape for a very long time. When you see people like Carolina, you understand that if she can do something, then that something is possible. If you love what you do, you put all of yourself into it, like Carolina Kostner.”

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When asked about retirement, Kostner brought up her cousin, Isolde Kostner, who won three Olympic Alpine skiing medals before deciding to step away from competition.

“She stopped skiing shortly before the (2006) Olympics in Italy,” Caroline Kostner said. “Many did not understand why she wouldn’t pull through because it was her home country, and she said, ‘You will feel strongly when it is time to stop.’ And I haven’t felt it yet.”

The biggest story at the world championships in an Olympic year tends to be who is missing rather than who shows up. The grind of competing for an entire season builds toward the quadrennial event, and athletes who medal or intend to retire rarely press on to worlds. Then there are the injuries, which accumulate during the year.

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