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Nathan Chen headlines Skate America; Grand Prix assignments announced

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Nathan Chen will try to become the first male singles skater in 22 years to three-peat at Skate America. Chen’s return to the biggest annual international figure skating event in the U.S. highlights the Grand Prix season fields announced Thursday.

Chen, a two-time world champion who went undefeated last season, will try to join Scott Hamilton and Todd Eldredge as the only men to win three straight Skate America titles. The competition is in Las Vegas in October, kicking off the six-event Grand Prix Series leading up to December’s Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy.

GP Entries: Men | Women | Pairs | Dance

Joining Chen at Skate America are past U.S. champions and Olympians Jason BrownBradie Tennell and Karen Chen. Reigning U.S. pairs’ champions Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc and ice dance champs Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are also slated for Las Vegas.

The top international names at Skate America include two-time world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China, world silver medalist Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan and 15-year-old Russian champion Anna Shcherbakova in her senior Grand Prix debut.

Nathan Chen will also compete at Grand Prix France the first week of November, which would require him to skip classes at Yale. Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu is entered in two other Grand Prix events in Canada and Japan.

U.S. champion Alysa Liu, at 13, is too young for the senior Grand Prix. She will make her Junior Grand Prix debut in Lake Placid, N.Y., in August.

As previously announced, U.S. Olympians Ashley WagnerMirai Nagasu and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are skipping the Grand Prix Series as they continue to take indefinite breaks from skating. None have competed since the PyeongChang Olympics.

Also not in the Grand Prix fields, as expected, are Olympic medalists Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, Carolina Kostner of Italy and Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They all sat out last season, too.

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MORE: Ice dance world medalists take competition break

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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Daniel Romanchuk’s ascent to marathon stardom accelerated at University of Illinois

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The rise of Daniel Romanchuk has been one of the major stories of this Paralympic cycle. The wheelchair racer was eliminated in the first round of all five of his races in Rio.

But now, he’s the world’s best marathoner with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, a world-record holder on the track and already qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Romanchuk, born with spina bifida, was profiled by NBC Sports Chicago as part of a series of NBC Sports Regional Networks pieces published this week — marking 150 days until the Tokyo Olympics and six months until the Tokyo Paralympics.

NBC RSN Olympic and Paralympic Profiles
NBC Sports Bay Area

Abbey Weitzeil (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Boston
Margaret Bertasi (Rowing) — LINK
Abbey D’Agostino Cooper (Track and Field) — LINK

NBC Sports Chicago
Ryan Murphy (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Northwest
Galen Rupp (Marathon) — LINK
Mariel Zagunis (Fencing) — LINK

NBC Sports Philadelphia
Vashti Cunningham (Track and Field) — LINK
Julie Ertz (Soccer) — LINK

NBC Sports Washington
Katie Ledecky (Swimming) — LINK
Kyle Snyder (Wrestling) — LINK

Romanchuk, 21, swept the Boston, London, Chicago and New York City Marathon titles in 2019. He attributes that success to his native Baltimore and his training residence of the University of Illinois.

At age 2, he was enrolled in Baltimore’s Bennett Blazers, an adaptive sports program for children with physical disabilities. Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist who dominated women’s wheelchair marathons, planted her athletic roots there.

“Their motto is to teach kids they can before they’re told they can’t,” Romanchuk said.

Things really blossomed for Romanchuk after he moved from Baltimore to the University of Illinois. Illinois was designated a U.S. Paralympic training site in 2014 and has produced McFadden, Jean Driscoll and other U.S. Paralympic stars.

“Without this program, I certainly would not be where I am,” Romanchuk said. “It’s a very unique combination of coaching and teammates.”

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MORE: Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch for 2020 Tokyo Games