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

Ski jumping World Cup season kicks off in Poland

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The World Cup ski jump season opens Friday with men’s team and individual events in Wisla, Poland.

The host country had three of the top five jumpers in the overall standings last year. Defending champion Kamil Stoch placed third, Piotr Zyla was close behind in fourth, and Dawid Kubacki was fifth.

Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi dominated last year’s competition, finishing with 2,085 points to 1,349 for runner-up Stefan Kraft of Austria, the 2017 World Cup champion.

Kobayashi’s performance was a dramatic improvement over his previous season, when he finished no higher than sixth in any individual competition and was 24th overall. Last year, he had 15 wins and 23 podium finishes in 30 World Cup events, though he only managed fourth and 14th in the two world championship events.

The top American last season, Kevin Bickner, finished 51st overall, a drop from 39th the year before. He was 18th and 20th in the 2018 Olympic jumps.

Women’s World Cup action begins Dec. 6-8 in Lillehammer, Norway.

NBC Sports Gold will broadcast World Cup action throughout the season. This weekend, the qualifying jumps will air at noon ET Friday, the team event starts at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday, and the individual competition is at 6 a.m. Sunday.

MORE: Full ski jumping broadcast schedule

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Snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65

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Jake Burton Carpenter, the pioneer who brought snowboarding to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business and Olympic showpiece, has died at 65.

He died Wednesday night in Burlington, Vermont, according to an email sent to the staff of the company he founded. Carpenter had emailed his staff this month saying, “You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back.” He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 but after several months of therapy had been given a clean bill of health.

Carpenter quit his job in New York in 1977 to form the company now known simply as Burton. His goal was to advance the rudimentary snowboard, then called a “Snurfer,” which had been invented by Sherman Poppen a dozen years earlier.

It worked, and more than four decades later, snowboarding is a major fixture at the Winter Games and snowboards are as common as skis at resorts across the globe.

“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much,” Burton co-CEO John Lacy said in his email to the staff.

It is virtually impossible to avoid the name “Burton” once the snow starts falling at any given mountain around the world these days. The name is plastered on the bottoms of snowboards, embroidered on jackets, stenciled into bindings.

At a bar in Pyeongchang, South Korea, not far from where snowboarding celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Olympics last year, there was a wall filled with Burton pictures and memorabilia — as sure a sign as any of the global reach of a company founded in his garage in Londonderry, Vermont.

The company sponsored pretty much every top rider at one time or another — from Shaun White to Kelly Clark to Chloe Kim.

Carpenter watched all his champions win their Olympic golds from near the finish line, never afraid to grind away in the mosh pit of snowboarders and snowboarding fans that he helped create.

In an interview in 2010, he said he was happy with how far his sport had come, and comfortable with where it was going.

“I had a vision there was a sport there, that it was more than just a sledding thing, which is all it was then,” Burton said. “We’re doing something that’s going to last here. It’s not like just hitting the lottery one day.”

Lacy said details about the celebration of Burton’s life would be coming soon but, for now, “I’d encourage everyone to do what Jake would be doing tomorrow, and that’s riding. It’s opening day at Stowe, so consider taking some turns together, in celebration of Jake.”

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