U.S. Figure Skating Championships women’s preview

Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner, Polina Edmunds, Mirai Nagasu
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The most anticipated competition at this week’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships is among the women, where a growing rivalry brews for gold and several skaters are in the picture to make the World Championships roster of three.

Icenetwork.com will stream the short program from Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday at 7:50 p.m. ET. NBC will air the free skate live on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Here’s the start order. Here’s the full competition schedule.

Here’s a look at women’s skaters to watch, with takes from NBC figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir.

Gracie Gold
Age: 19
Hometown: Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Credentials: 2014 U.S. champion, fourth at 2014 Olympics, fifth at 2014 World Championships

Gold was the clear favorite to repeat since her maiden title last year, until Dec. 4, when she announced she had a small stress fracture in her foot and pulled out of the Grand Prix Final. She’s pronounced herself ready to go, but that injury plus Ashley Wagner‘s fantastic free skate at the Grand Prix Final raised doubt.

Lipinski’s Take: “After talking to them, Ashley seemed so hungry and so vicious. … When I talked to Gracie, she was a little more reserved. I almost could feel the fear, but she’s technically so good.”

Gracie Gold’s evolving friendship with Taylor Swift

Ashley Wagner
Age: 23
Hometown: Los Angeles
Credentials: 2012-13 U.S. champion, seventh at 2014 Olympics, seventh at 2014 World Championships

Wagner is the oldest podium threat but has the most momentum. She won bronze in December at the Grand Prix Final, the biggest international competition of the season outside of the World Championships. She fought to earn a podium place with a strong free skate, jumping from sixth place out of six skaters after the short program. Her free skate score was six points higher than Gold’s total when she won the NHK Trophy in Japan two weeks earlier. Wagner can become the oldest U.S. champion since Michelle Kwan in 2005 and the first woman to win three titles since Kwan, who won nine.

Lipinski’s Take: “Ashley’s win of the bronze at the Grand Prix Final has elevated her back again into maybe the favorite for gold, whereas I feel before Gracie was still holding onto that position. That rivalry is going to be pretty intense, especially the short program, just because so much rides on that. I’m sure the energy in the building that night will be palpable.”

Ashley Wagner, unshaken by 2014, out to reclaim U.S. title

Polina Edmunds
Age: 16
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Credentials: 2014 U.S. silver medalist, ninth at 2014 Olympics, eighth at 2014 World Championships

Edmunds shocked TD Garden when she finished second to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team last year, in her first senior U.S. Championships. She struggled to adapt to increased pressure and puberty in this follow-up season. Edmunds will finish sixth this week if all skaters repeat their best scores from the Grand Prix season. Edmunds hopes to become the youngest U.S. champion since Mirai Nagasu in 2008.

Lipinski’s Take: “I could probably relate most to what Polina is going through now. I grew an inch and a half, two inches every year. When I won Worlds [in 1997] and then the Olympics [in 1998], I definitely grew. You can feel the differences. Hopefully, speaking for Polina, even after talking to her, she has such a great base and technique for her triple [jumps]. I think that will hold her over, even if she is feeling some changes.”

Polina Edmunds deals with growing pains since Olympics

Mirai Nagasu
Age: 21
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Credentials: 2014 U.S. bronze medalist, 2008 U.S. champion, fourth at 2010 Olympics

Nagasu was left off the three-woman Sochi Olympic team despite finishing third at the 2014 U.S. Championships. That’s because fourth-place Wagner had much stronger results in the two years leading up to the Olympics, which also go into determining the Olympic team. This season, Nagasu has not skated well enough to make one believe she can win the U.S. title. However, she knows what it takes to perform well on the big stage, winning the 2008 U.S. title at age 14, the second-youngest ever behind Tara Lipinski. She hopes to return to Worlds for the first time since 2010.

Weir’s Take: “Certainly a year of renaissance for Mirai Nagasu with a new coaching team. We did see stronger performances on the Grand Prix, but not on the same level as Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold are giving.”

U.S. Figure Skating Championships men’s preview

Samantha Cesario
Age: 21
Hometown: Oceanside, N.Y.
Credentials: Fifth at 2014 U.S. Championships, fourth at 2014 Skate America

Cesario will finish third, and presumably make her first World Championships team, if all skaters repeat their best scores from the Grand Prix season. That would be a breakout for the New Yorker, who improved from eighth at the 2013 U.S. Championships to finish fifth last year, beating Wagner in the free skate.

Weir’s Take: “She has that razzle dazzle appeal of New York.”

Courtney Hicks
Age: 19
Hometown: Chino Hills, Calif.
Credentials: Sixth at 2014 U.S. Championships, fourth at 2013 U.S. Championships

Hicks, a former U.S. junior champion, put herself in the Olympic conversation with the third-best free skate at the 2013 U.S. Championships. But her very next nationals program, the short in Boston in 2014, was 16th best, ending her Sochi hopes. She was fourth at both of her Grand Prix events this season, proving the most consistent American behind Wagner and Gold.

Lipinski’s Take: “Huge jumps.”

Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir’s predictions for U.S. Championships

Isabeau Levito, 15, delivers in figure skating nationals short program as favorite

Isabeau Levito
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Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old favorite, delivered in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships short program, taking the lead into Friday’s free skate.

Levito, third in her senior nationals debut last year, tallied 73.78 points in a clean short on Thursday in San Jose, California.

She edged the comebacking two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell by two hundredths of a point. Starr Andrews was third, one hundredth ahead of Amber Glenn and 1.53 points ahead of Gracie Gold.

A committee selects the three-woman team for worlds shortly after the free skate.

“I was kind of aiming for this placement,” Levito said on USA Network.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, a New Jersey native who started skating at 3 and a half and has been with the same coach since age 4, developed a steely reputation as a competitor. That mixes with her artistic comparisons to 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen and her inspiration, Johnny Weir. She hasn’t missed a podium at a competition she has completed at any level since November 2016.

It’s seemed like Levito has been destined to be the leading U.S. woman in the 2026 Olympic cycle, leading up to the Winter Games in her mom’s hometown of Milan. She was too young for last year’s Olympics, but would have just missed the team had she been age-eligible.

None of the three 2022 U.S. Olympians are competing this season — Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell retired; Karen Chen is studying at Cornell — paving the way for Levito to ascend.

That she did, winning April’s junior worlds to become the first U.S. woman to win a global title — junior or senior — since 2008.

Then this past fall, Levito placed second in her first two senior Grand Prix starts, then placed a surprising second at December’s Grand Prix Final, which gathered the world’s top six women from across the series.

Granted, the Final was her lowest point total of her five international events this season. All six skaters had multiple jumping errors in the free skate.

Levito ranks fifth in the world by best total score this season, fourth among seniors and a whopping 18.13 points better than the No. 2 American. Note the absence of Russia, which has dominated women’s skating for the last decade.

Levito won’t be worrying about her international standing while sitting on an overnight lead. She has work left in Friday’s free skate to win what could be the first in a series of national titles.

Tennell, 24, had her best short program since coming back from a 19-month competition break due to foot and ankle injuries. She was unable to defend her national title last year, ruling her out of Olympic contention.

“Even just making it back onto the ice again was a struggle,” Tennell said while in the arena where she made her Olympic team in 2018. “I stepped on the ice today and I looked up and I closed my eyes and I took a deep breath, and I was like, ‘You can do this,’ which is the exact same thing I did five years ago.”

Andrews, 21, is coming off a fall Grand Prix Series where she became the first Black U.S. skater to win a medal on the circuit.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Women’s Short Program
1. Isabeau Levito — 73.78
2. Bradie Tennell — 73.76
3. Starr Andrews — 68.97
4. Amber Glenn — 68.96
5. Gracie Gold — 67.44
6. Lindsay Thorngren — 62.64
7. Clare Seo — 61.48
8. Ava Ziegler — 61.09
9. Audrey Shin — 60.76
10. Ting Cui — 57.11
11. Josephine Lee — 55.60
12. Lindsay Wang — 52.19
13. Sonja Hilmer — 51.16
14. Michelle Lee — 46.71
15. Gabriella Izzo — 45.73
16. Alexa Gasparotto — 45.00
17. Elsa Cheng — 44.36
18. Hanna Harrell — 42.84

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

Rhythm Dance
1. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 91.90
2. Caroline Green/Michael Parsons — 81.40
3. Emilea Zingas/Vadym Kolesnik — 78.18
4. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko — 77.37
5. Lorraine McNamara/Anton Spiridonov — 76.23
6. Emily Bratti/Ian Somerville — 75.91
7. Eva Pate/Logan Bye — 75.52
8. Isabella Flores/Ivan Desyatov — 73.91
9. Oona Brown/Gage Brown — 72.80
10. Katarina Wolfkostin/Jeffrey Chen — 69.05
11. Angela Ling/Caleb Wein — 68.53
12. Leah Krauskopf/YuanShi Jin — 52.59
13. Cara Murphy/Joshua Levitt — 50.88
14. Caroline Depietri/TJ Carey — 48.28
WD. Raffaella Koncius/Alexey Shchepetov

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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