Asada strives toward missing gold under massive attention in Japan

Mao Asada
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DETROIT — While the four reigning U.S. national champions have solid figure skating followings, arguably the one truly global superstar at Skate America this weekend is Japan’s Mao Asada.

The Vancouver Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion pleased hundreds of Japan-flag waving fans at Joe Louis Arena, thousands of miles from home. After Asada ended the short program in the lead, three dozen Japanese reporters stood waiting for her off the ice Saturday.

At 23, Asada has said this will be her last season after she wiped the slate clean following the 2010 Games and started rebuilding her skating with a focus on her triple jumps.

“Compared to four years ago, I’ve focused more on the technical aspect of my skating,” Asada said Friday through an interpreter. “I have started from scratch, and now feel like I’m seeing the result of that.”

Asada benefits from her triple Axel, specifically, in the ladies event where it is a rarity. Saturday she hit it — if not perfectly — to help her into first place over two-time U.S. national champion Ashley Wagner.

Wagner, who has publicly been chasing a triple-triple combination herself, said the Axel is what sets Asada apart.

“Mao does triple Axels like nobody’s business,” Wagner said. “It’s inspiring to be around. It makes me want to get better. I definitely think that now that she has her triple Axel back and solid she is a force to be reckoned with. I would like to think that as my programs develop and my spin levels get there I feel like I’ll be able to get closer and closer to her. She’s a strong and solid competitor, so she’s giving me something to work for — I can’t slack off.”

There has been no slacking for Asada since her silver medal in Vancouver, revamping to try to close the gap on reigning Olympic champion Yuna Kim. And while Asada won’t say she wants gold in Sochi, she seems to imply it.

“After Vancouver, part of me that was very happy about [winning silver] and part of me wasn’t happy about it,” Asada said. “Because this is my last season and [it’s] an Olympic season, I’m hoping everything comes together for the best at every event.”

Asada has experience and accomplishments on her side: she won skating’s Grand Prix Final at the Iceberg Skating Palace –- the Sochi Olympic venue –- in December 2012.

“The last time I was there, the result was very good,” Asada said through the interpreter, smiling. “And I was very comfortable. That helps me; I’m looking forward to going back.”

Asada said she notices her picture being taken in public every now and then but isn’t overwhelmed by it. The popularity of figure skating has soared in Japan with Shizuka Arakawa winning Olympic gold in 2006 and Daisuke Takahashi capturing bronze in 2010, the first men’s singles medal for the country.

“When I’m down, fans and everyone are trying to cheer me up,” Asada said of the attention. “Other than that, I have a pretty normal life.”

U.S. men’s Olympic figure skating picture clouded

Ukraine Olympic champion auctions gold medals to support his country

Yuriy Cheban
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Sprint canoeist Yuriy Cheban, Ukraine’s most decorated male Olympian, is auctioning his two gold medals and one bronze medal to support his country’s defense and recovery efforts amid the war with Russia.

“It was one of the best moments of my life that can be compared only with the birth of my child,” Cheban posted specifically about his repeat 200m gold at his last Olympics in Rio in 2016. “This Olympic finish left a great memory forever in the world history and in the hearts of Ukraine.

“Time to move on, I would like these medals to benefit Ukrainians once again.”

Cheban, a 36-year-old who coached Ukraine canoeists at the Tokyo Games, took 500m bronze in 2008 before his 200m golds in 2012 and 2016, all in individual races.

He and boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko are the only men to win two Olympic gold medals for Ukraine, which began competing independently in 1994. Cheban is the only man to win three total Olympic medals for Ukraine, according to Olympedia.org.

Swimmer Yana Klochkova won the most medals for Ukraine — four golds and five total.

All proceeds from the sales will go to Ukraine’s Olympic Circle charity, according to SCP Auctions.

Olympic Circle was created by sportsmen to help Mykolaiv, a city in southern Ukraine, fight Russian occupants, according to SCP.

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Alpine skiing TV, live stream schedule for 2022-23 World Cup season

Mikaela Shiffrin, Marco Odermatt
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NBC Sports and Peacock combine to air live coverage of the 2022-23 Alpine skiing season, including races on the World Cup, which starts this weekend.

Coverage begins with the traditional season-opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria, this Saturday and Sunday, streaming live on Peacock.

The first of four stops in the U.S. — the most in 26 years — is Thanksgiving weekend with a women’s giant slalom and slalom in Killington, Vermont. The men’s tour visits Beaver Creek, Colorado the following week, as well as Palisades Tahoe, California, and Aspen, Colorado after worlds in Courchevel and Meribel, France.

NBC Sports platforms will broadcast all four U.S. stops in the Alpine World Cup season, plus four more World Cups in other ski and snowboard disciplines. All Alpine World Cups in Austria will stream live on Peacock.

Mikaela Shiffrin, who last year won her fourth World Cup overall title, is the headliner. Shiffrin, who has 74 career World Cup race victories, will try to close the gap on the only Alpine skiers with more: Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86). Shiffrin won an average of five times per season the last three years and is hopeful of racing more often this season.

On the men’s side, 25-year-old Swiss Marco Odermatt returns after becoming the youngest man to win the overall, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, since Marcel Hirscher won the second of his record eight in a row in 2013.

2022-23 Alpine Skiing World Cup Broadcast Schedule
Schedule will be added to as the season progresses. All NBC Sports TV coverage also streams live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Date Coverage Network/Platform Time (ET)
Sat., Oct. 22 Women’s GS (Run 1) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 7:05 a.m.
Sun., Oct. 23 Men’s GS (Run 1) — Soelden Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden Peacock 7 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 12 Women’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 6 a.m.
Women’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 12 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 13 Men’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 10 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 19 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7 a.m.
Sun., Nov. 20 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4:15 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7:15 a.m.
Fri., Nov. 25 Men’s DH — Lake Louise (PPD) Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 26 Women’s GS (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 27 Women’s SL (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:15 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 2 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 3 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek CNBC, Peacock 4 p.m.*
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*
Sun., Dec. 4 Women’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 1 p.m.
Men’s SG — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*

*Delayed broadcast.

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