Denis Ten

Key information for Cup of China

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Almost every (healthy) Olympic figure skating medal contender will have completed a Grand Prix event by the end of the weekend.

2012 World champion Carolina Kostner and 2013 World silver medalist Denis Ten lead the fields at the Cup of China, the third of six events before the Grand Prix Final, on Friday and Saturday in Beijing.

When they’re done, it will be time to compare scores and gauge the early Olympic pecking order for men, women, pairs and ice dancers.

Here’s the Universal Sports and NBC schedule for Cup of China:

Friday
Universal Sports (online) — 3 a.m. (short programs)
Universal Sports (TV) — 6 p.m. (short programs)

Saturday
Universal Sports (online) — 2 a.m. (free dance)
Universal Sports (online) — 7:30 a.m. (pairs free)
Universal Sports (TV) — 6 p.m. (free dance/pairs free)

Sunday
NBC (TV) — 1:30 (men’s/women’s free)

Here’s a preview for each discipline:

Men

Ten, the Kazakh who placed 11th at the 2010 Olympics at age 16, is reportedly going to compete despite a back injury. He withdrew from Skate America two weeks ago and has also battled an infection that left black spots on his ankles and forced a tooth to be removed, according to icenetwork.com.

Ten was a revelation at the World Championships in March, beating three-time world champion Patrick Chan in the free skate and finishing 1.3 points behind Chan overall.

His competition in Beijing will come from France’s Florent Amodio (three-time European medalist), Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka (2011 World silver medalist) and Russia’s Maxim Kovtun. Kovtun is the top threat to Yevgeny Plushenko to take Russia’s single men’s entry at the Olympics.

One American is entered — 2011 U.S. silver medalist Richard Dornbush.

Here are the top scores from Skate America and Skate Canada for comparison’s sake this weekend:

Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 265.38
Patrick Chan (CAN) — 262.03
Adam Rippon (USA) — 241.24
Max Aaron (USA) — 238.36
Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) — 236.21
Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 234.80

2013 World bronze medalist Javier Fernandez of Spain will make his Grand Prix season debut at NHK Trophy in Tokyo next week. 2013 Four Continents champion Kevin Reynolds of Canada withdrew from Cup of China due to equipment issues that limited his training.

Women

The Italian Kostner, a five-time medalist at the World Championships, is the class of the field. She’ll be challenged by four women who made the top 10 at worlds in March — Japan’s Kanako Murakami (fourth), China’s Li Zijun (seventh) and Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova (ninth).

One American woman is entered — 2013 U.S. bronze medalist Agnes Zawadzki. Zawadzki is in the thick of the running for one of three U.S. Olympic Team spots with Ashley WagnerGracie Gold and Christina Gao

Here are the top scores from Skate America and Skate Canada for comparison’s sake this weekend:

Mao Asada (JPN) — 204.55
Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS) — 198.23
Ashley Wagner (USA) — 193.81
Akiko Suzuki (JPN) — 193.75
Gracie Gold (USA) — 186.75
Elena Radionova (RUS) — 183.95 (not Olympic eligible)
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 176.75
Christina Gao (USA) — 173.69

Reigning Olympic and world champion Yuna Kim pulled out of her two Grand Prix events due to a foot injury but may return for a smaller event in December.

Pairs

Germans Aliona Savechenko and Robin Szolkowy have won a medal at each of the last seven World Championships and are the 2010 Olympic bronze medalists. They are looking up at reigning world champions Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov (not competing at Cup of China) going into Sochi, though.

In Beijing, they will go up against the 2010 Olympic silver medalists Chinese Pang Qing and Tong Jian.

Two U.S. pairs are entered — 2013 U.S. silver medalists Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim and bronze medalists Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay. They are in the running for two available pairs spots on the U.S. Olympic Team.

Here are the top scores from Skate America and Skate Canada for comparison’s sake this weekend:

Volosozhar/Trankov (RUS) — 237.71
Moore-Towers/Moscovitch (CAN) — 208.45
Berton/Hotarek (ITA) — 193.92
Sui/Han (CHN) — 193.77
Duhamel/Radford (CAN) 190.62

Denney/Coughlin (USA) — 182.43
Castelli/Shnapir (USA) — 177.11
Zhang/Bartholomay (USA) — 168.42

Ice Dance

The Olympic gold and silver medals are expected to go to Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, but the next two best couples are in Beijing.

Either France’s Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat or Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev won bronze medals behind the Americans and Canadians at the last two World Championships and Grand Prix Finals.

Two U.S. couples are entered — U.S. silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates and two-time reigning U.S. junior champions Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton.

They are among the couples fighting for three U.S. Olympic Team spots in ice dancing.

Here are the top scores from Skate America and Skate Canada for comparison’s sake this weekend:

Davis/White (USA) — 188.23
Virtue/Moir (CAN) — 181.03
Weaver/Poje (CAN) — 175.23
Cappellini/Lanotte (ITA) 168.49
Shibutani/Shibutani (USA) — 154.47
Hubbell/Donohue (USA) — 153.20

Video: Davis/White discuss Sochi, coffee on ‘SportsDash’

WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

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Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Mikaela Shiffrin, with 66th World Cup win, moves one shy of career dream

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Mikaela Shiffrin has said one of her career dreams is to win in every discipline in one season. She is now one victory shy of realizing it.

Shiffrin earned her 66th World Cup victory — and her second in three days — at a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

She prevailed by .29 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino and .70 over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Gut-Behrami, the last skier other than Shiffrin to win a World Cup overall title back in 2016, earned her first podium in exactly one year.

Full results are here.

“Perfect weekend for me,” said Shiffrin, who moved one shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for third place on the World Cup career wins list. “The whole team is excited about the whole weekend, but especially today.”

She is en route to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. And she is a combined victory away from wins in all five disciplines in one season. Only Marc GirardelliPetra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze have done it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of right now is that I know how to win in slalom, [giant slalom], super-G and downhill, which I never expected that would really happen,” she said.

Shiffrin struggled with confidence during a winless stretch in early January, trying not to compare herself to last season, when she won a record 17 times. She still leads the men’s and women’s tours with six victories this season, a little more than halfway through.

“Every race is such a big fight, and I haven’t been the one on top of this fight every time,” she said. “Certainly I’ve been like sometimes the expectations that I have or that other people might have, I’m not quite living up to that. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing sometimes, even though this is still just an incredible season.”

There are two combined races left this season for Shiffrin to achieve the dream — Feb. 23 in Switzerland and March 1 in Italy. While combined — mixing a speed run and a technical run — might seem perfect for Shiffrin, she has one victory in four starts in the discipline between the World Cup and Olympics.

And Shiffrin is careful about her race schedule. She is undecided on entering a downhill and super-G next weekend at the 2014 Olympic venue in Russia.

“After this weekend my brain is a little bit dead,” she joked.

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