Nathan Chen, Ashley Wagner
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How to watch U.S. Figure Skating Championships

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The U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the final event to decide the Olympic team, will air live on NBC, NBCSN and Olympic Channel and stream on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app next week with every senior session.

Senior competition runs from Jan. 3 through Jan. 7 in San Jose, Calif.

The Olympic team, selected by committees, will include three men, three women, three dance couples and one pairs team.

While podium finishers will have the inside track to Olympic spots, nobody — not even national champions — clinch automatic PyeongChang berths. The committees decide everything.

The favorites include Nathan Chen, who last year became the first skater to land five quadruple jumps in one program en route to becoming, at age 17, the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 1966.

Chen is the only male singles skater in the world who is undefeated this season. The run included victory at this fall’s Grand Prix Final, the biggest international event ahead of the Olympics.

Chen is all but assured one of the three men’s Olympic berths given his resume.

He could be joined in PyeongChang by training partner and 2016 U.S. champion Adam Rippon, a 28-year-old trying to become the oldest U.S. Olympic rookie singles skater since 1936.

Jason Brown, a 2014 Olympian, and Max Aaron, also past U.S. champions, are in the mix. As is world junior champion Vincent Zhou.

PREVIEWS: Men | Women | DancePairsTV Schedule | Olympic Selection

There is no dominant U.S. women’s singles skater this year, but it would be a surprise if three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner does not make a second straight Olympic team.

With Gracie Gold taking this season off, Wagner has new challengers.

Like Karen Chen, who stunningly won last season’s nationals and then, in another pleasant surprise, was fourth at worlds. Chen has struggled this season, however.

Mirai Nagasu is a sentimental favorite. The 2010 Olympian was third at the 2014 U.S. Championships but left off the three-woman Sochi team in favor of fourth-place Wagner.

The newest names are Mariah Bell, third at last season’s nationals, and Bradie Tennell, the top-ranked U.S. woman this season, her first at the senior international level.

In dance, the same three couples finished in the top three at each of the last three U.S. Championships — Maia Shibutani and Alex ShibutaniMadison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

It would be a stunner if those aren’t the three U.S. Olympic dance couples.

The U.S. will send its smallest pairs contingent — one pair — to the Olympics since the first Winter Games in 1924.

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim are the clear favorites. The Knierims are the top-scoring U.S. pair four seasons running.

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MORE: Olympic Channel airs classic Olympic figure skating marathon

Date Time (ET) Program Network
Wednesday 11 p.m.-1 Women’s Short NBCSN | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
Thursday 4-5 p.m. Pairs Short Olympic Channel | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
5-6:30 p.m. Pairs Short NBCSN | STREAM
8:30 p.m.-12 Men’s Short NBCSN | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
Friday 4-6 p.m. Short Dance NBCSN | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
8-11 p.m. Women’s Free NBC | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
Saturday 4-6 p.m. Pairs Free NBC | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
8-11 p.m. Men’s Free NBCSN | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
Sunday 3-6 p.m. Free Dance NBC | STREAM | SKATE ORDER
Jan. 13 4 p.m. Exhibition Gala NBC | STREAM

Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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Greg Van Avermaet triples Tour de France lead in first mountain stage

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Belgian Greg Van Avermaet more than tripled his Tour de France overall lead in the first day in the mountains on Tuesday, but Wednesday may be his last day in the yellow jersey.

Julian Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman to win a stage in this year’s Tour, claiming the 10th stage that included three first-category climbs and a beyond-category climb but ended with a descent and the contenders together in the peloton.

Van Avermaet finished fourth, 1:44 behind Alaphilippe. More importantly, Van Avermaet crossed the Grand-Bornand finish line 1:39 ahead of a group that included most of the main contenders to top the podium in Paris on July 29.

The Olympic road race champion increased his overall lead from 43 seconds to 2:22.

Van Avermaet has worn the maillot jaune for a week straight, but he is not a climber, and the biggest test of the Tour thus far is imminent.

“No disrespect, but he’s not going to win the Tour,” said Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who is in second place.

The Tour continues with stage 11, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Wednesday (full broadcast schedule here). The 67-mile stage starts in the 1992 Winter Olympic host Albertville and includes two beyond-category climbs. It concludes with a category-one summit at La Rosière.

“Tomorrow’s a climber’s day,” Van Avermaet said. “It will be super hard to keep [the yellow jersey]. … Tomorrow it will be over.”

Chris Froome, eyeing a record-tying fifth Tour de France title, is best placed of the pre-Tour favorites.

Froome is in sixth place and 3:21 behind Van Avermaet. Froome is followed by Spaniard Mikel Landa in the same time and 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali another six seconds back.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran, the 2017 Tour runner-up, finished 2:36 behind the group with Froome, Landa and Nibali.

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