U.S. Figure Skating Championships men’s preview

Jason Brown, Jeremy Abbott, Max Aaron, Joshua Farris
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For the first time since 2011, the men will compete at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships for three spots at the World Championships, rather than two.

Any mix of veteran national champions, Olympians a 15-year-old newcomer or a resurgent former World junior champion can claim the berths this weekend.

Icenetwork.com will stream the short program from Greensboro, N.C., on Friday at 8:15 p.m. ET. NBC will air the free skate during coverage Sunday beginning at 4 p.m.

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

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

Jeremy Abbott
Age: 29
Hometown: Royal Oak, Mich.
Credentials: U.S. champion in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014; 12th at 2014 Olympics; fifth at 2014 World Championships

Only one man in the last 60 years won more than five national titles — Todd Eldredge with six*. Abbott can break his tie with Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano if he can take No. 5 this week. Abbott is the defending champion, but last year’s runner-up, Jason Brown, outscored Abbott at both the Sochi Olympics and at Skate America in October. Abbott will be skating two weeks after the death of his father, who had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.

Lipinski’s Take: “The biggest problem for Jeremy is the mental outlook. When I watch him skate, I get nervous.”

Jason Brown
Age: 20
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Credentials: 2014 U.S. silver medalist; ninth at 2014 Olympics

The clear favorite. Brown’s two Grand Prix series totals (235.56, 234.17) were both higher than any other U.S. man’s performance over the six events. No other U.S. man scored more than 230 points in both of their events. Brown can win the title without a quadruple jump in his arsenal. If he does, he will become the youngest U.S. men’s champion since Johnny Weir won the first of three straight titles in 2004.

Weir’s Take: “I think that Jason Brown has it all, aside from the quad. … He spins amazingly. He skates intricate, beautiful performances. He’s got to land the jumps. I think if he does that, he’ll probably be our gold medalist.”

Jason Brown sets modest goal as U.S. Championships favorite

Max Aaron
Age: 22
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Credentials: 2013 U.S. champion; 2014 U.S. bronze medalist; eighth at 2014 World Championships

Aaron stunned in 2013, winning the national title after finishing eighth the year before. He must have been disappointed to not make it to Sochi, but he rebounded by teaming with Abbott at March’s World Championships to earn the U.S. three spots at this year’s Worlds. Aaron had the best U.S. finish in the Grand Prix series other than Brown.

U.S. Figure Skating Championships women’s preview

Joshua Farris
Age: 20
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Credentials: Fourth at 2013, 2014 U.S. Championships; 2013 World junior champion

Farris has yet to translate his World junior title into senior success. He withdrew from Cup of China in November with an ankle injury. He returned later in the month at NHK Trophy and finished 11th with falls and popped jumps in both programs. He must clean up his programs mightily to come close to the podium.

Nathan Chen
Age: 15
Hometown: Irvine, Calif.
Credentials: 2014 U.S. junior champion; 2014 World junior bronze medalist

Chen dismissed predictions he could make the podium in Greensboro by saying he’s “here for the experience.” But the hype remains. Chen plans up to three quads in his free skate alone but now has a reported heel injury to conquer as well. Chen can become the youngest man to win a nationals medal since 1973.

Lipinski’s Take: “He’s a little fireball. He’s my dark horse. If you’re looking on paper, no, it doesn’t look like he should be on the podium. But what he has planned, if you see him skate, he’s pretty consistent and the technical goods are there.”

Stephen Carriere
Age: 25
Hometown: Boston
Credentials: Fourth at 2014 Skate Canada; 10th at 2008 World Championships; 2007 World Junior champion

Carriere is definitely in the mix, despite finishing 10th at the last two U.S. Championships. His total score at Skate Canada was only lower than Brown and Aaron in the Grand Prix series, though he tumbled to ninth at Rostelecom Cup. Carriere was the U.S. bronze medalist at age 18 in 2008, behind Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir and ahead of Abbott. He hasn’t been better than sixth at nationals since.

Richard Dornbush
Age: 23
Hometown: Corona, Calif.
Credentials: Fifth at 2014 U.S. Championships; Third at 2014 Cup of China

Dornbush will repeat his fifth-place finish from last year if all U.S. men repeat their best Grand Prix series scores. Remember though, Dornbush placed second in the short program at the U.S. Championships last year. He was poised to make the U.S. Olympic team before tumbling with the eighth-best free skate.

Adam Rippon
Age: 25
Hometown: Los Angeles
Credentials: 2012 U.S. silver medalist; 2008, 2009 World junior champion

Rippon posted the worst Grand Prix series placements (fifth and 10th) in his seven-year career. But his fifth at Trophee Bompard, his more recent skate, was just six points off the third-best U.S. man in the Grand Prix season. He’s not out of the medal picture.

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

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that no man had won more than five national titles since Dick Button.