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How to watch U.S. Figure Skating Championships

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Nathan Chen sets out for his third national title, while Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are aiming to defend their title for the first time at the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships in Detroit Jan. 22-27.

It’s the first time Detroit has held the championships in 25 years, when Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by associates of Tonya Harding.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program from Detroit from junior and senior competition. Juniors starts Tuesday with the ladies’ short program, and seniors will begin Thursday with the pairs’ short program.

NBCSN and NBC will also have live coverage of senior competition throughout the weekend.

The national championships will dictate which skaters are assigned late-season competitions, including Four Continents Championships in February and the world championships in March.

Chen, the 2018 world champion, is expected to reign supreme over the men’s field. He will likely be joined on the podium by 2014 Olympian Jason Brown and 2018 Olympian Vincent Zhou.

MORE: Nathan Chen prepared to capture third national title

On the ladies’ side, last year’s champion Bradie Tennell has said this season she wants to improve her artistic side of her skating. She faces challenges in that department from Mariah Bell and 13-year-old prodigy Alysa Liu will also make a run at the podium. With Karen Chen’s and Gracie Gold’s withdrawals, the podium at nationals looks much more unclear.

MORE: Three questions with Bradie Tennell

Two-time pairs national championships Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim changed coaches after a tumultuous season thus far, and will have to fend off 2016 champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea. Also in the field are Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc. Cain recently recovered from a concussion after a scary fall in competition.

MORE: Three questions with the Knierims

The U.S.’ top three dance teams train together in Montreal: Hubbell and Donohue, 2015 U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Grand Prix Japan winners Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker.

Hubbell and Donohue most recently won the Grand Prix Final and should have no problem topping the podium in Detroit. It will be the season debut for Chock and Bates, who missed the entire autumn season with Chock’s injury. Hawayek and Baker have never been higher than fourth on the U.S. podium, but this is expected to be their breakthrough year – if it isn’t already.

MORE: Three questions with Chock, Bates 

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U.S. Championships broadcast schedule (all times Eastern)

Tuesday

Junior ladies’ short program: 5:30 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Junior men’s short program: 7:30 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

 

Wednesday

Junior pairs’ short program: 10:30 a.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Junior rhythm dance: 2:45 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Junior ladies’ free skate: 5:30 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Junior men’s free skate: 7:30 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

 

Thursday

Junior pairs’ free skate: 11:45 a.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Pairs’ short program: 4:30 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 5 p.m. on NBCSN | STREAM LINK

Ladies’ short program: 8 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 9 p.m. on NBCSN | STREAM LINK

 

Friday

Junior free dance: 12 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Rhythm dance: 3:45 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 4 p.m. on NBCSN | STREAM LINK

Ladies’ free skate: 7:35 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 8 p.m. on NBC | STREAM LINK

 

Saturday

Pairs’ free skate (groups 1-3): 9:30 a.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Men’s short program (groups 1-2): 11:10 a.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Men’s short program (groups 3-4): 1:30 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Pairs’ free skate (groups 4-5): 3 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

NBC will have coverage of the pairs’ free skate and men’s short program beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Free dance: 6:15 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 7 p.m. on NBCSN | STREAM LINK

 

Sunday

Men’s free skate: 2:10 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 3:30 p.m. on NBC | STREAM LINK

 

Saturday, Feb. 16

Skating Spectacular (gala exhibition): 2:30 p.m. on NBC

USOPC proposes more athletes on board as part of overhaul

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DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is proposing an increase in athlete representation on its board and a recasting of its mission statement to include the job of promoting athletes’ well-being.

These changes are part of a proposal, released Monday, to rewrite the USOPC bylaws.

The rewrite comes 20 days after federal lawmakers — looking for a shake-up in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal that has tainted the U.S. Olympic movement — proposed their own drastic overhaul of the law governing the USOPC.

The USOPC portrayed its proposals as merely a first step, and, indeed, the measures lack many of Congress’ more aggressive proposals.

But they would heed athletes’ calls for more representation, by increasing their makeup on the board from 20% to 33%.

They would also change the mission statement to read: “empower Team USA athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence and well-being,” where previously the well-being part was not mentioned.

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MORE: Overhaul would give Congress power to fire USOPC board

Why a 62-year-old played at the world badminton championships

Mathew Fogarty
Courtesy Mathew Fogarty
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Mathew Fogarty said badminton’s European elite made fun of him for playing professionally at age 59. That was three years ago. Fogarty still competes at the sport’s highest level, taking part in the world championships that began Monday in Basel, Switzerland.

Fogarty, who turns 63 on Oct. 30, is older than any U.S. Olympian in any sport since the St. Louis 1904 Games, according to the OlyMADMen.

“I play because I can, and I’m a doctor, and I think sports is a really important part of people’s health and fitness,” said Fogarty, who has played competitively since age 7, whose full-time job is a psychoanalyst and who is based in the Los Angeles area. “I’ll stop badminton when I can no longer qualify. There’s still opportunity, and I love the sport. I’m going to continue to do the best I can.”

He lost in the first round of mixed doubles at worlds on Monday. Fogarty and partner Isabel Zhong, a 27-year-old with an IMBD profile, saw their world championships end in 23 minutes, a 21-9, 21-10 loss to a Ukrainian pair.

That was more competitive than Fogarty’s last two worlds appearances — a 21-6, 21-4 loss with Zhong in 2018 and a 21-2, 21-4 loss with another partner in 2017. Fogarty’s only international match wins in the last two years came via walkover or the one time his singles opponent retired after three points, according to his World Badminton Federation profile. He won an international tournament as recently as 2011 and said his career-high mixed doubles world ranking was 32.

He and Zhong paired because they were part of the same Manhattan Beach Badminton Club, and she wanted to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games, Fogarty said. Zhong did not respond to an interview request.

“I told her I didn’t know if we could do it, but we could try,” Fogarty said. “It’s extremely remote [chances] … slim to nil.”

The top mixed doubles team from the North and South American region is in line to qualify for the Olympics. The leaders in qualifying so far are Canadians ranked 19th in the world. Fogarty and Zhong, though they are the only U.S. mixed doubles team at worlds, are 67th in the world in Olympic qualifying and third among Americans.

The U.S. has never earned an Olympic medal in badminton, which debuted at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Mixed doubles was added starting at Atlanta 1996, but the U.S. has put just one mixed team into an Olympics, getting swept out of pool play in Rio.

Fogarty, who has never played at the Olympics, is able to play at worlds for a few reasons: he can fund his way to international events to accumulate ranking points; the U.S. is historically weak and has a lack of players with professional ambitions; mixed doubles is the least common of the Olympic disciplines.

“Matt takes it seriously,” said Dean Schoppe, a fellow 62-year-old who has known and played with Fogarty for nearly a half-century. Schoppe recently retired from pro badminton himself. “Matt still approaches the matches with the actual idea of winning,”

Schoppe called Fogarty the best American junior player of his generation in the late 1970s.

“Most badminton players retire at about 26 or 27 with their first catastrophic injury, which is usually a torn Achilles,” he said. “There are people who are born [to play], you see it in every sport. Magic Johnson, they have the peripheral vision. They have the balance. They have all the intangibles that other people have to try to learn and can’t.

“He has the gift. He can look at you peripherally and see that you’re leaning. … Fogarty can hold the serve and turn his shoulders and do crap that makes you fall over, and that infuriates.”

Mathew Fogarty
Badmintonphoto/BWF

Fogarty took breaks from the sport for medical school in the 1980s and ’90s. He returned in the late 1990s and kept playing deep into his 40s, 50s and now 60s in part, he said, to challenge corruption within the sport.

Fogarty had legal battles with USA Badminton. He said that past officials broke up his Olympic hopeful partnership with a teenager in men’s doubles to push others toward the 2000 Sydney Games.

“The last thing they wanted was a 42-year-old with an 18-year-old trying to make the Olympics,” Schoppe said.

USA Badminton recently had mass resignations among its board and top officials amid reports of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee threatening decertification.

USA Badminton’s new interim CEO, 1992 and 1996 Olympian Linda French, declined comment on Fogarty’s past issues with the organization because she was not formally involved at the time.

“We’re hopeful to move forward in a positive manner and wish all our athletes continued success,” French said.

Fogarty does not know how much longer he will travel the world, or even the U.S., to play competitively. A 43-year-old told him at a recent event that Fogarty was his inspiration to keep playing.

“The nature of sports is you can’t predict what it’s going to be,” Fogarty said.

Schoppe dismissed a question of whether it’s easier to play badminton at such a ripe age than other physically demanding sports.

“Imagine pulling out James Worthy and say, OK, James you are now starting for Golden State and you’re playing the Lakers tomorrow,” Schoppe said. “You cannot be old in badminton and do well in badminton. It’s nothing like baseball.

“We were the anomaly of anomalies to have success in our 40s. Nobody does.”

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