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How to watch 2018 Kona Ironman World Championship

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“Whoever crawls across the finish line first, we’ll call him the Iron Man.” — Navy commander John Collins, before the first Hawaii Ironman in 1978.

The Ironman triathlon began as a 15-athlete event on Waikiki Beach to settle a debate. On Saturday, approximately 2,500 entrants take part in the 140.6-mile crucible with live coverage on NBC Sports. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

It begins with a 90-minute show on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. ET, just as the elite men’s race starts with the 2.4-mile swim at 6:35 a.m. local time. The women follow five minutes later. The Ironman Facebook page will have live streaming coverage.

LIVE STREAM: IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Live reports on NBCSN and NBC air throughout Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m. ET. NBCSN airs a recap Sunday at 12 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

Live Update Schedule on NBCSN (ET)
3 p.m.
4 p.m.
6:15 p.m.
8:30 p.m. (RACE FINISH)

This event was the idea of Hawaiians John Collins and wife Judy. He had read in Sports Illustrated that five-time Tour de France champion Eddy Merckx of Belgium was the world’s best athlete, which sparked conversation.

“It was an argument as to who was in better shape, runners or swimmers. I proposed that, possibly, cyclists were in better shape,” Collins said on the 1998 Ironman broadcast on NBC.

On Feb. 18, 1978, Collins and 14 others dove into the Pacific Ocean to settle it. Each competitor received three sheets of paper beforehand listing rules, a course description and, on the last page, one last motivator.

“Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”

Collins has regrets from that day. That half a beer on the 26.2-mile run. That bowl of chili on the 112-mile bike.

Gordon Haller, a taxi driver, would win in 11 hours, 46 minutes, 58 seconds (Saturday’s champion will cover the course in a little over eight hours). The trophy, made by Collins, was an iron man.

This year’s race is headlined by defending champions Daniela Ryf of Switzerland and Patrick Lange of Germany, who own the course records.

Ryf, a 31-year-old who converted to the Ironman distance after placing 40th in the 2012 Olympic triathlon, is going for a fourth straight Kona crown to match Paula Newby-Fraser‘s female record. On July 8, Ryf won the Ironman European Championship by 26 minutes with a time that would have placed seventh in the men’s division.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Sarah True was the distant runner-up to Ryf at Europeans and is making her Kona debut after retiring from the Olympic distance. More on True’s transition here.

Australian Mirinda Carfrae owns three Kona titles and has made the podium in seven of her eight Kona starts.

Lange’s chances to repeat were boosted when countryman and 2008 Olympic champion Jan Frodeno withdrew with a hip fracture last month. Frodeno won Kona in 2015 and 2016, plus took this summer’s Ironman European title by nearly eight minutes against a field that included Lange.

Lange, 32, broke the Kona course record last year — 8:01:40 — with a 2:39:59 marathon, just off his run course record of 2:39:45 from the previous year. He ran the final mile in 5:37.

Runner-up Lionel Sanders of Canada, back for this year’s race, emerged from a drug addiction to become one of the world’s best athletes with most of his training done in a 10-foot-by-10-foot room dubbed “the pain cave.”

Then there’s Spaniard Javier Gomez, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist and five-time Olympic-distance world champion making his Kona debut. Gomez owns a pair of half Ironman world titles from 2014 and 2017.

Notable non-elite entrants include 2012 Olympic road race champion Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan and 1990s Tour de France veteran Laurent Jalabert of France. Vinokourov served a blood-doping ban a decade ago. In 2013, a French Senate report listed Jalabert as one of many cyclists to use illegal drugs in that era.

MORE: Gwen Jorgensen questions marathon after Chicago disappointment

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Javier Fernandez, Alina Zagitova highlight action at European Championships

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez competes for what is expected to be the final time this weekend at the European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus. Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia is also looking to defend her title in the ladies’ field.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program starting on Wednesday, and NBCSN and NBC will also have coverage.

MORE: Schedule/ How to watch

Men

Fernandez, the 2018 PyeongChang bronze medalist, owns six European titles. No man since Austrian Karl Schaefer – who won eight consecutive European titles beginning in 1929 – has won as many straight titles as Fernandez. Fernandez traded world titles during the last Olympic quadrennial with his training partner Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. They both train in Toronto under Brian Orser.

Also in the field are Michal Brezina from the Czech Republic, who most recently finished fourth at the Grand Prix Final at age 28, and three Russian men: Mikhail Kolyada, Maxim Kovtun, and Alexander Samarin.

Ladies

Reigning Olympic gold medalist Zagitova could lead a Russian podium sweep at the 2019 European Championships with teammates Stanislava Konstantinova and Sofia Samodurova.

The competition-within-the-competition at Europeans is also notable: Russia will not choose their World team until after the event. For example, two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva is not competing at Europeans, and 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was already told to train for Worlds despite not competing at Europeans.

Pairs

French pair Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres will try and buck a trend at Europeans, where teams representing Russia or the Soviet Union have won 47 of the last 54 titles. Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are looking for a three-peat, though have been inconsistent so far this season and recently returned to last season’s short program.

James and Cipres missed out on bronze by 0.01 points at the 2018 Europeans, and could become the first French pair to win the event since 1932. The last non-Russian team to win Europeans was Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy in 2011.

Ice dance

Three-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France should coast to the gold medal in Minsk for a fifth consecutive title. Other dance teams have won more European titles, but no team has ever won five in a row.

The rest of the podium is more unclear. The Italians, Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri, will likely split the difference between the two Russian teams – who have their own domestic battle to contend with: Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin.

As a reminder, you can watch the European Championships 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.

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How to watch the European Figure Skating Championships

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Javier Fernandez returns to competition for probably a final time with his eyes on a seventh title at the European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus Jan. 23-27.

Olympic champion Alina Zagitova looks for a second European title in the ladies’ field, while two couples from France look to top the podiums in the dance and pairs’ fields.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program from Minsk starting Wednesday with the ladies’ short program.

NBCSN and NBC will also have coverage throughout the weekend.

Preview: Javier Fernandez, Alina Zagitova highlight Europeans

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European Figure Skating Championships broadcast schedule (all times Eastern)

Wednesday

Ladies’ short program: 3 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Pairs’ short program: 10:45 a.m. (GOLD)

 

Thursday

Men’s short program: 4 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

Pairs’ free skate: 11 a.m. (GOLD), begins at 11 p.m. on NBCSN

 

Friday

Rhythm dance: 3:30 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 2 p.m. on NBCSN

Ladies’ free skate: 10 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 6 p.m. on NBCSN

 

Saturday

Men’s free skate: 3:15 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 11 a.m. on NBCSN

Free dance: 8:25 a.m. (GOLD)

 

Sunday

Ladies’ and men’s free skate: 1:30 p.m. on NBC