Karen Chen, Ashley Wagner trail at Skate Canada (video)

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The leading American woman at Skate Canada is neither Karen Chen nor Ashley Wagner, who went one-two at last season’s U.S. Championships.

Instead, it’s surprisingly Courtney Hicks, who was 12th at nationals.

Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond is in first place with 76.06 points after Friday’s short program. She goes into Saturday’s free skate with a 7.01-point lead over Russian Anna Pogorilaya.

World silver medalist Shoma Uno topped the men’s short with 103.62, landing two quadruple jumps. He’s 9.19 ahead of three-time world champion Patrick Chan and 12.91 ahead of U.S. Olympian Jason Brown in third.

In ice dance, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir broke their world-record short dance score with 82.68 points.

Full scores are hereA full broadcast schedule is here.

Hicks, who has never been top three in five nationals appearances, is fourth behind Russian Maria Sotskova in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Chen (fifth place) and Wagner (seventh) both struggled with jumps Friday.

Not the way they wanted to open the Grand Prix season, with results weighing into who makes the three-woman U.S. team for PyeongChang. That team will be named after nationals in January.

Chen and Wagner are still favorites, but every mistake is an opening for Mariah BellMirai Nagasu and others. Though neither Bell nor Nagasu made a strong case in Grand Prix debuts last week.

Chen barely stayed on her feet on her opening triple Lutz, which was meant to be in combination. She later performed a triple-double combo rather than a triple-triple.

Wagner had problems fully rotating her jumps. The three-time U.S. champion and 2016 World silver medalist had her worst Grand Prix short-program standing since she was eighth in her Grand Prix debut at 2007 Skate Canada.

Japan’s Marin Honda fell on her opening triple-triple jump combination and popped an Axel, placing 10th with 52.60 points. Honda, the 2016 World junior champion, beat Chen at her senior international debut last month.

Skate Canada
Women’s Short
1. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 76.06
2. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 69.05
3. Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 66.10
4. Courtney Hicks (USA) — 64.06
5. Karen Chen (USA) — 61.77
7. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 61.57

Men’s Short
1. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 103.62
2. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 94.43
3. Jason Brown (USA) — 90.71

Short Dance
1. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 82.68 WR
2. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 77.47
3. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 76.08
5. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA) — 63.10

Pairs Short
1. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 77.34
2. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 73.53
3. Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) — 73.04
6. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 63.26

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MORE: Will Virtue, Moir bid farewell at Olympics?

WATCH LIVE: U.S. Figure Skating Championships rhythm dance, women’s free skate

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Can Bradie Tennell hold off 14-year-old Alysa Liu? The U.S. Figure Skating Championships crowns its female medalists on Friday, live on NBC Sports.

Action starts with the rhythm dance at 4:30 p.m. ET for NBC Sports Gold subscribers, with NBCSN broadcast coverage joining in at 5. The women start at 7:25 on Gold, with NBC TV coverage starting at 8.

LIVE STREAM: Rhythm dance — Gold | NBCSN | Skate Order
LIVE STREAM: Women’s free skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Tennell topped Thursday’s short program with a clean slate of jumps, plus the highest artistic score.

She bettered Liu in the short program last year, too, but fell in the free skate to take silver. Liu, meanwhile, landed two triple Axels to win by 3.92 points and become the youngest U.S. champion in history.

Another skater to watch is Gracie Gold, the two-time U.S. champion competing at nationals for the first time in three years. Gold, lauded for her return from an eating disorder, depression and anxiety, struggled with jumps in the short and is in 13th place of 18 skaters.

In the rhythm dance, past U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates are expected to begin a duel that should come down to Saturday’s free dance.

Key Skate Times
5:32 p.m. — Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue
5:38 — Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker
5:44 — Madison Chock/Evan Bates
8:07 — Gracie Gold
10:03 — Karen Chen
10:11 — Amber Glenn
10:27 — Bradie Tennell
10:35 — Mariah Bell
10:43 — Alysa Liu

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, who defected, eyes Tokyo Games as German or refugee

AP
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LÜNEN, Germany (AP) — Iran’s only female Olympic medalist said Friday she wants to compete for Germany after defecting from her native country.

Kimia Alizadeh is trying to rebuild her life and career after she announced this month she had left Iran, citing sexism on the part of officials there.

“Even if I do not make it to the Olympics, it does not matter because I have made up my mind,” Alizadeh said at a meeting with journalists at a taekwondo club.

“I am sure that I will be judged by many, but I am just 21 years old and can attend world tournaments and future Olympics. However, I will spare no effort to get the best result at this time as well.”

She added she doesn’t expect ever to compete in Iran again.

Alizadeh was just 18 when she won bronze in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, catapulting her to instant fame at home. Despite Iran’s long history of victories in men’s wrestling and weightlifting, no Iranian woman had ever won a medal before.

However, Alizadeh was frustrated with life in Iran despite her Olympic success. In an Instagram post this month announcing she had left Iran, she accused Iranian officials of sexism and criticized wearing the mandatory hijab headscarf.

Alizadeh hasn’t given up hope of being able to compete at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo. However, getting there would require highly unusual exemptions from the usual rules on nationality switches and qualification, regardless of whether she tries to represent Germany or the International Olympic Committee’s refugee team.

Alizadeh spent time in the Netherlands before heading to Germany this week to meet with taekwondo officials there. The German Taekwondo Union has spoken up in favor of Alizadeh staying in the country in what it calls a first step toward her gaining nationality and becoming eligible to compete for Germany.

“If the German government assists me and I can go through this process as fast as possible, I might be able to make it to the Olympics, too,” she said.

In recent years, many Iranian athletes have left their country, citing government pressure. In September, the former world judo champion Saeed Mollaei moved to Germany after walking off the Iranian team at the world championships in Japan. He said Iranian officials had tried to force him to withdraw so as not to compete against an Israeli opponent.

Alireza Faghani, an Iranian international soccer referee, also left Iran for Australia last year.

Alizadeh said she just wants “a peaceful life,” and she’s not looking back.

“I have a great feeling to have made a decision for my life that would definitely change my future,” she said. “I think it is not even clear enough now and. in the years to come, I will understand what a good decision I made.”

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MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics