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How to watch 2019 Skate America

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Nathan Chen competes this weekend in an attempt to win his third straight Skate America title, the first stop on the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating for the 2019-20 season.

Skate America will stream live for NBC Sports Gold “Figure Skating Pass” subscribers.

There will also be a free trial of the subscription service during Skate America, taking place in Las Vegas. The free trial includes exclusive live coverage of practices and warm-ups starting Thursday, Oct. 17 through Saturday, Oct. 19. NBC Sports Gold’s “Practice Cam” presents live coverage of practice beginning Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Gold will stream coverage live and on-demand, to desktops, mobile, tablets, and connected TV devices.

Chen hasn’t lost a Grand Prix event since his silver medal finish at the 2016 Grand Prix Final. And he’s undefeated since his fifth place finish in PyeongChang. Now a sophomore at Yale University, Chen will face challenges from countryman Jason Brown, South Korea’s Cha Junhwan, and China’s Jin Boyang.

MORE: No burnout for ‘Rocket Man’ Nathan Chen

The ladies’ field features Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto, who captured silver at Skate America in 2018, as well as 2017 and 2018 U.S. national champions Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell. Chen, who began her freshman year at Cornell this fall, returns to major international competition after missing last season with an injury.

Plus, Russian junior Anna Shcherbakova makes her senior-level Grand Prix debut after she won the 2019 Russian national championships (at the senior level, despite her junior status at the time) and silver at the world junior championships. Shcherbakova has landed quad Lutz in competition.

Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue can lead the U.S. to its 11th straight Skate America ice dance title. Russia’s Aleksandra Stepanova (returning from an injury) and Ivan Bukin, fourth at last year’s world championships behind Hubbell and Donohue’s bronze by a slim 1.88 points, are also in the field.

Reigning U.S. national champions Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc will compete in pairs after winning bronze at last year’s Skate America. The biggest threats in the pairs competition will likely come from Cheng Peng and Yang Jin of China and Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin of Russia.

Skate America entries: Men | Ladies | Pairs | Dance

Also at Skate America, the U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone Ice Desk will stream live on the U.S. Figure Skating Facebook and Youtube accounts as well as the U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone. Analysts Michael Weiss (three-time U.S. men’s champion), Brooke Castile (2007 U.S. pairs champion) and Sinead Kerr (seven-time British ice dance champion) join Nick McCarvel for commentary.

Skate America TV/Stream schedule (all times ET)

Thursday
1 p.m. – Practice camera – STREAM LINK

Friday
10:15 a.m. – Practice camera – STREAM LINK
4 p.m. – Pairs short program – STREAM LINK
5:30 p.m. – Men’s short program – STREAM LINK
10 p.m. – Rhythm dance – STREAM LINK

Saturday
12 a.m. – Ladies’ short program – STREAM LINK, Live on NBCSN
4:15 p.m. – Pairs free skate – STREAM LINK
6 p.m. – Men’s free skate – STREAM LINK, Live on NBCSN
10 p.m. – Free dance – STREAM LINK

Sunday
12 a.m. – Ladies’ free skate – STREAM LINK, Live on NBCSN (beginning at 1 a.m.)

MORE: Nathan Chen calls 3 quads at Skate America ‘a given’

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Check out a free trial of the Figure Skating Pass during Skate America from Oct. 18-20. 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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Amy Cragg to withdraw from U.S. Olympic marathon trials

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Defending champion Amy Cragg will miss the Feb. 29 U.S. Olympic marathon trials with an illness, according to her social media.

“The Trials are the reason I have shown up every day for the last four years, so this has been an extremely difficult decision,” was posted on her social media. Cragg later said she had Epstein-Barr virus, according to multiple reports.

Cragg, 36, was among the favorites to grab three Olympic spots at trials in Atlanta, despite not having competed over 26.2 miles since the February 2018 Tokyo Marathon.

She withdrew from the 2018 Chicago Marathon with a hamstring injury and also scratched a month before the 2019 Chicago Marathon, citing signs pointing to needing more time after the previous year’s injury.

Cragg, fourth at the 2012 Olympic trials, relegated Des Linden and Shalane Flanagan to second and third at the 2016 trials. Linden and Flanagan went on to win the Boston and New York City Marathons, respectively, ending long U.S. women’s victory droughts.

Cragg went on to finish ninth in Rio and earn a 2017 World bronze medal, the first world championships marathon podium finish for an American woman since the first worlds in 1983.

Cragg could still make the Tokyo Olympic team in the 10,000m if she races at track trials in June. She won the 2012 Olympic trials 10,000m but hasn’t raced the distance on the track since May 2017.

“Right now my only goal is to get healthy so that I can train at the level needed to be competitive,” Cragg said in an emailed message from her agent. “That being said, the reason I am still in this sport is because of the Olympic Trials and Olympics. It is what excites me more than anything, so it is something I would still love to do.”

With Cragg absent and Flanagan retired, Linden is the only woman in next week’s field with Olympic marathon experience.

Other favorites include Olympic 10,000m runner Molly Huddle, world championships 10,000m runner Emily Sisson and Jordan Hasay, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner in history.

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Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic marathon trials

Galen Rupp
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As Galen Rupp bids for a fourth Olympics, and perhaps become the first man or woman to win the Olympic marathon trials twice outright, he found some rare familiarity these days on the roads Feb. 8.

“Feeling like my old self again,” Rupp said Wednesday of winning a low-key half marathon in Mesa, Ariz., his first completed race in 16 months and since parting from now-banned, career-long coach Alberto Salazar. “It’s obviously been a long year and a half.”

Rupp clocked 61 minutes, 19 seconds on a downhill course. It’s faster than any half marathon by an American recorded by World Athletics since the start of 2019. Granted the downhill, but Rupp also said he was instructed by new coach Mike Smith to make it a controlled effort.

“He didn’t want me to run all-out, didn’t want me to really push and put myself in a big hole,” Rupp said, noting he was still in heavy training. “You don’t want to break that [training] up and put yourself in a deficit by having a massive effort.”

Mesa answered questions about Rupp’s readiness for the Olympic trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 (NBC, 12-3 p.m. ET). Even to the two-time Olympic medalist himself. Rupp said he started the half marathon with a little bit of doubt — given recent left ankle and calf injuries — but felt early on that everything would be fine.

“It really put my mind at ease,” he said. “I’m going to be good for the marathon.”

His last two marathons did not go well.

At the 2018 Chicago Marathon, Rupp dropped from the leaders around mile 19 and finished fifth in a title defense. An Achilles injury flared up near the end. He underwent surgery later that month for two tears. Doctors said the ankle had been “a ticking time bomb.”

“They said I was really lucky to have as good of health as I had and manage it as I did,” Rupp said.

He went a full year before racing again, at the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13, 12 days after Salazar’s ban was announced. Even that was a rushed comeback, Rupp said after dropping out around mile 23 with a calf injury.

“I’m not going to say it was a wake-up call,” Rupp said, “but I think I was a little bit stubborn before Chicago.”

Rupp said he ran through pain in training to get to the start line four months ago. He had trouble walking for several days after the abbreviated race and focused on physical therapy for about two months. He resumed normal, pain-free training in December.

By early January, Runner’s World reported that Oregon-based Rupp found a new Flagstaff-based coach in Smith, who leads a Northern Arizona University program that won the last three NCAA men’s cross-country titles.

“The biggest thing to me was Mike’s philosophy in coaching was very similar to the program that I was under for so many years,” said Rupp, who was for more than a decade part of the Nike Oregon Project, which was shut down last fall after Salazar’s ban for doping violations (which he appealed). Rupp wasn’t implicated by USADA and has a clean drug-testing record. “What I love most about it was Mike’s honesty and how forthright he was about everything. You could tell he wasn’t just saying what I wanted to hear or say, ‘We’re just going to do whatever you’ve been doing and try and replicate that.’ You’ve got to keep evolving and trying new things.”

Smith declined an interview request through NAU until after trials. He agreed to coach Rupp after about a month of communication and hard questions, according to Runner’s World.

“Because of its timing and the headlines I was reading like everyone else at the time, this was not a road I wanted to go down,” Smith said, according to the report. “To be honest, it was just easiest to turn it down. I’m actually — as crazy as this sounds — really proud I did not.

“What I found out by getting to know Galen was that there was much more going on than the picture portrayed of him, and I wish the world knew that. I have never seen someone more all-in in my life.”

Rupp, asked his toughest moment of the last two years, said he moves forward.

“Throughout any hardships and setbacks, I felt a lot of gratitude that I had as good of a run as I did with my health and everything going well for as long as I did,” he said. “It can be easy to get angry and get down, like why me, but I do believe that things always work out. There’s a reason behind all this stuff.”

Which brings Rupp to Atlanta next week for the first time in his life, aside from airport layovers. The race is unlike any other he has contested. The course is unusually hilly. The format — Americans only, top three make the Olympic team — makes for different tactics than the World Marathon Majors that Rupp is used to.

In 2016, Rupp entered as a favorite but without any marathon experience. He won convincingly, pulling away from now-retired Meb Keflezighi by 68 seconds.

The field is deeper this year. Seven Americans broke 2:11 in 2019. Only one did in 2015. But Rupp, at his best, is in his own class.

His personal best 2:06:07, from his last healthy marathon in 2018, is 1:49 faster than the second-fastest in the trials field in this Olympic cycle (Leonard Korir). The next-fastest, Scott Fauble, is more than three minutes behind by personal bests.

“I can confidently go in and say that I’ve put in the work for this, just like I know that I put in the work in 2016,” Rupp said. “Of course, you want to go in and have good races, feeling confident and being on a roll like I was several years ago. But I think that’s why that race in Mesa was so important to show, more to myself, that hey, you’re ready to go. You can still run well. You haven’t lost everything. Surgery didn’t wipe you out.”

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