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

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Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani look to close out the U.S. Figure Skating Championships with their third straight ice dance crown, live on NBC and streaming on NBCOlympics.com.

The Shibutanis take a 3.23-point lead into the free dance.

NBC and NBCOlympics.com coverage runs from 3-6 p.m. ET.

FREE DANCE: Stream Link | Start List/Results

The Olympic team of three ice dance couples will be announced at 8:55 p.m. ET. It’s crystal clear.

The Shibutani siblings, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates have been the top three U.S. couples since Meryl Davis and Charlie White stepped away from competition after winning the first U.S. Olympic dance title in Sochi.

Even if another team shockingly makes the top three Sunday, a committee has discretion to stray from the final standings when choosing the Olympic team.

There is still plenty at stake. The national champions likely go into the Olympics as the bronze-medal favorites behind the last two world champs from France and Canada.

The Shibutanis are undefeated against U.S. couples for more than two years, but all three were within a point of each other at their last event in December.

They’re within five points of each other after Friday’s short dance.

The key skaters going Sunday:

Free Dance
Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons — 5:13 p.m. ET
Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker — 5:20 p.m. ET
Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani — 5:28 p.m. ET
Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue — 5:35 p.m.
Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 5:43 p.m.

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

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

AP
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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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