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Ice dance medalists, pair champions named to 2019 world championships team

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Grand Prix Final gold medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who successfully defended their national title on Saturday night, were named to the 2019 World Championship team, U.S. Figure Skating announced Sunday. Hubbell and Donohue won silver medals at 2018 Worlds.

Their training mates — and the two teams they shared the nationals podium with — will join them: two-time Worlds medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates as well as Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. The same three dance teams are slated to compete at the Four Continents Championships that begin Feb. 5 in Anaheim, Calif.

The U.S. has one spot for the pairs’ competition and will fill it with new national champions Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc. The pair won their first title together on Saturday.

Joining Cain and LeDuc at Four Continents are silver medalists Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier as well as fourth-place finishers, and last year’s Four Continents champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea.

Bradie Tennell and Mariah Bell were named to the world team on Saturday.

Worlds are March 18-24 in Saitama, Japan.

The men’s world team is scheduled to be named Sunday evening.

Nathan Chen has said his status regarding competing at Four Continents, should he be named to the team, is “TBD.” He won Four Continents in 2017.

MORE: Before the ice dance final, Hubbell, Bates’ families gather for Little Caesars Arena-style tailgate

As a reminder, you can watch the U.S., Four Continents and World 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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Federica Brignone hopes World Cup rival Mikaela Shiffrin will return soon

Shiffrin and Brignone
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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s prolonged absence from the World Cup Alpine skiing circuit has opened the door for Italy’s Federica Brignone to break the American’s grip on the season title, but Brignone hopes her friend and rival will be back in competition soon.

“I really do hope that she will return soon for herself so she can do again what she loves most,” Brignone said.

Brignone took the season lead from Shiffrin, who has won the last three World Cup overall titles, on Sunday and has a 73-point advantage with 11 of the season’s 40 races remaining. She also leads Shiffrin by 74 points in the giant slalom standings.

READ: Brignone moves into World Cup lead

No Italian woman has won the overall World Cup. Brignone was fifth in 2017 and won the Alpine combined discipline title last season.

Brignone will have a chance to clinch another Alpine combined discipline title and extend her overall lead in her home country this weekend. While some other sports events in Italy have been canceled or otherwise affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the host resort of La Thuile has so far been spared from the virus’ spread.

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the only other skier with a realistic chance of winning the overall trophy, is dealing with a knee injury and might not be able to race this weekend. Vhlova leads Shiffrin by 20 points in the slalom standings.

Shiffrin has not competed since the death of her father Feb. 2, and she has not announced plans to return. She was not on pace to match her astounding 17-win 2018-19 season but still had six wins and had reached the podium in 13 of 19 races.

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World short-track speedskating championships will be moved, postponed or canceled

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The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the world short-track speedskating championships will not proceed as scheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink, where the competition was set to be held March 13-15, held the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships earlier this month but closed on Monday.

The ISU left open the possibility that the championships will be postponed or relocated, but the window to do so may close rapidly.

“Taking into account the uncertain world-wide development of the coronavirus, the limited and uncertain available time slots during the coming weeks and the logistical challenges of potential organizers and participating teams, a postponement and/or relocation of the Championships would be difficult to achieve,” the ISU said. “Nevertheless, a postponement and/or relocation of this Championships might be considered if the circumstances would allow so in due time.”

South Korea is one of short-track speedskating’s traditional powers. Last year, the country dominated the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning both relays and taking gold in all of the men’s individual races. South Korea also led the medal count on home ice in the 2018 Olympics.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of many events in China, where the illness was first found. The world indoor track and field championships were pushed back a whole year.

With the virus spreading to other regions, other countries’ sports schedules are being affected. Several soccer games are proceeding in empty stadiums in Italy and Iran.

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