Key information for Cup of China

Denis Ten
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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’