Ashley Wagner

World Figure Skating Championships schedule

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U.S. Figure Skating has lofty goals across all four disciplines at this week’s World Championships in Shanghai, China, including winning its first women’s medal in nine years.

Olympians Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds are all medal threats, the U.S. champion Wagner in particular. Their biggest competition will be three Russians, including Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Yelena Radionova, the two women who beat Wagner at the Grand Prix Final in December.

Wagner, Gold and Edmunds are all trying to become the first U.S. women’s Olympic or Worlds individual medalist since Kimmie Meissner and Sasha Cohen in 2006, the longest drought since World War I.

They’re also out to keep Russia from the first women’s podium sweep since Americans Kristi Yamaguchi, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan in 1991.

RELATED: Ashley Wagner has Worlds medal in sight, but aims higher

The U.S. men’s trio would like to qualify three spots for the 2016 World Championships in Boston, the first in the U.S. since Los Angeles 2009. To do that, the two best placements from U.S. champion Jason Brown, Adam Rippon and Joshua Farris must combine to be no worse than 13th (Brown places sixth and Rippon seventh, for example).

That won’t be easy. The men’s field includes reigning Olympic and World champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan and World bronze medalist Javier Fernandez of Spain. Russians Maksim Kovtun and Sergey Voronov and Japan’s Takahito Mura also outperformed all of the Americans in the Grand Prix season.

RELATED: Jason Brown doesn’t plan quad for Worlds

The U.S.’ best shot at gold may be in ice dance with Sochi Olympians Madison Chock and Evan Bates. They were eighth at the Winter Games and fifth at the 2014 World Championships.

But this season, with Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White sitting out, Chock and Bates won two Grand Prix events and finished second at the Grand Prix Final, the second biggest international event behind Worlds.

Finally in pairs, U.S. champions Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim want to finish in the top six. That would match or better the best American finish in pairs since 2006.

Here’s the schedule of events in Shanghai (all times Eastern):

Tuesday: Short dance (9:30 p.m.)
Wednesday: Pairs short program (6:15 a.m.)
Wednesday: Women’s short program (10:30 p.m.)
Thursday: Pairs free skate (7 a.m.)
Thursday: Free dance (10:30 p.m.)
Friday: Men’s short program (4:30 a.m.)
Friday: Women’s free skate (10:30 p.m.)
Saturday: Men’s free skate (5:45 a.m.)

Icenetwork.com will provide live online coverage to its Season Pass subscribers.

NBC will air coverage Saturday from 8-10 p.m. ET.

Tara Lipinski/Johnn Weir previews: Women/Ice Dance | Men/Pairs

Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

MORE: How Gracie Gold landed in Philadelphia, thoughts competitive return

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