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What to watch at U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday

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Nathan Chen looks to complete his maturation from child star to Olympian, among many figure skaters chasing Olympic berths at the U.S. Championships on Saturday, live on NBC and NBCSN and streaming on NBCOlympics.com.

NBC will air pairs’ free skate coverage from 4-6 p.m. ET. NBCSN will have the men’s free skate from 8-11 p.m.

One pair and three men — not necessarily the top finishers from nationals — will be named to the Olympic team on Sunday.

PAIRS’ FREE: Stream Link | Start List/Results
MEN’S FREE: Stream Link | Start List/Results

The pre-event pairs’ favorites — husband and wife Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim — topped Thursday’s short program by 2.17 points.

The Knierims have been the top-scoring U.S. pair each of the last four seasons and could be named the lone U.S. Olympic pairs team even if they are beaten Saturday.

Chen, the only undefeated male skater this season, carries a 7.93-point lead into the free skate, where he plans five quadruple jumps.

He could tumble out of the top three Saturday and still make the Olympic team on the strength of his incredible 2017 — winning last season’s national title, beating Sochi gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu at the Olympic test event and going unbeaten in the fall Grand Prix season.

The question is which two skaters join Chen in PyeongChang.

Adam Rippon and Jason Brown, the U.S. champions who preceded Chen, are second and third going into the free skate. Vincent Zhou, the 2017 U.S. silver medalist, is in fifth but plans more quads than Rippon and Brown.

The key skaters going Saturday:

Pairs’ Free Skate
Deanna Stellato/Nathan Bartholomay — 5:16 p.m. ET
Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier — 5:25 p.m.
Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea — 5:34 p.m.
Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim — 5:43 p.m.

Men’s Free Skate
Vincent Zhou — 10:03 p.m.
Grant Hochstein — 10:11 p.m.
Ross Miner — 10:19 p.m.
Adam Rippon — 10:28 p.m.
Jason Brown — 10:36 p.m.
Nathan Chen — 10:44 p.m.

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VIDEO: Ashley Wagner ‘furious’ over U.S. Championships scores

Date Time (ET) Program Network
Wednesday 11 p.m.-1 Women’s Short NBCSN | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
Thursday 4-5 p.m. Pairs Short Olympic Channel | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
5-6:30 p.m. Pairs Short NBCSN | STREAM
8:30 p.m.-12 Men’s Short NBCSN | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
Friday 4-6 p.m. Short Dance NBCSN | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
8-11 p.m. Women’s Free NBC | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
Saturday 4-6 p.m. Pairs Free NBC | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
8-11 p.m. Men’s Free NBCSN | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
Sunday 3-6 p.m. Free Dance NBC | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
Jan. 13 4 p.m. Exhibition Gala NBC | STREAM

 

IOC: ‘More exciting initiatives’ for Korean unity in PyeongChang

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic organizers on Friday welcomed an agreement between North and South Korea to unite athletes at the PyeongChang Winter Games and promised that “much more exciting initiatives” promoting Korean unity will emerge this weekend.

“Watch this space,” International Olympic Committee presidential spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press in an interview, a day before a crucial meeting of Korean delegations at Olympics headquarters in Lausanne.

He declined to elaborate, saying the decisions would come Saturday.

Referring to a detailed peace-making agreement between the rival countries announced Thursday by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, including a joint team in the women’s hockey tournament, Adams said it was “great … but these are discussions” — meaning the IOC had not yet given the deal the final green light.

“I can tell you that there will also be some much more exciting initiatives coming through as well tomorrow,” he added.

Provided that the IOC finalizes the deal, it would mark the first time the two National Olympic Committees would be competing together in a single team.

Some have questioned the fine print of the agreement announced by the two Koreas, saying it gives the combined hockey squad a far larger roster than any other national team.

Asked how the IOC planned to maintain the integrity of the sport, Adams said: “People would say that these are exceptional circumstances, and we need exceptional measures.”

“This is about the Olympic spirit,” Adams added. “And the Olympic spirit is about nations competing, athletes competing, and we will do our best make sure that it sends a signal that sport can improve the world.”

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Julia Mancuso skis final race dressed as Wonder Woman (video)

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Julia Mancuso bid farewell like only she could — with a tiara, cape and Wonder Woman suit.

The most decorated female U.S. Olympic skier with four medals announced Friday morning that today’s World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo would be the last race of her career.

More on Mancuso’s retirement, career and immediate future here.

She raced Friday as her nickname — “Super Jules” — and coasted to the bottom 18 seconds slower than winner Sofia Goggia.

Afterward, U.S. Ski Team members sprayed her with champagne and lifted her up in the finish corral.

Mancuso chose an appropriate venue for her last race.

She notched her first World Cup podium in Cortina in January 2006, then won the Olympic giant slalom in Sestriere, Italy, four weeks later.

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