Marta Bassino wins Alpine World Cup opener in Soelden; first top-10 for American

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SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — Clenching her first, Marta Bassino screamed for joy and shouted “Si!” after crossing the finish line.

Almost a year after her first career win, she led Federica Brignone for an Italian 1-2 finish in the season-opening women’s World Cup giant slalom Saturday.

Bassino held on to her first-run lead to beat her teammate and defending overall World Cup champion by 0.14 seconds.

Full results are here.

“I am really proud of today and really happy about this start of the season. It’s really perfect,” Bassino said.

The result was a copy of her maiden triumph in the GS in Killington, Vermont, last season, when she also defeated Brignone.

“We are a perfect couple,” Bassino said. “We have a great team. We worked very well this summer and I think this is the result.”

Petra Vlhova posted the fastest second-run time and the Slovakian racer finished third, 1.13 off the lead.

Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin was 1.30 behind in fourth, while last year’s winner Alice Robinson had a costly mistake in her second run before finishing 12th.

Three-time overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin sat out the race. The American, who won here in 2014, tweaked her back in training two weeks ago and opted to rest.

Usually, many Italian fans travel to the Tyrolean Alps to visit the season opener, but no spectators were allowed this time as one of the precautionary health and safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It feels really weird,” Brignone said. “For me, Soelden is a lot of noise, a lot of people, crowd(ed), everyone is excited. But this is the compromise to begin the season and I think that is OK.”

Brignone scooped the overall title last season, dethroning Shiffrin who was taking a break following the death of her father just before the remainder of the season was canceled.

The first overall World Cup champion from Italy, Brignone said she felt under pressure to cement her status in the new season.

“I love skiing but the last weeks I was not skiing like I wanted, I was getting nervous,” Brignone said. “But now I feel almost relaxed. For me, it’s fantastic. It’s a new season and I’m here.”

In the first run, Bassino dealt best with flat light on the partly foggy Rettenbach glacier to build a substantial lead of 0.58 seconds over Brignone.

Skies cleared for the second run, and although Bassino lost much of her advantage over Brignone, her win was never really in danger.

“The first run was more easy,” said Bassino, adding that the second “was hard but I tried to push hard from the start gate to the finish line. I am really happy.”

Even without Shiffrin, the U.S. ski team scored a remarkable result with two racers in the top 15.

Nina O’Brien placed 15th and teammate Paula Moltzan, who started 62nd in only her second GS, was ranked 17th after the opening run before finishing a career-best 10th.

“I’m a bit shocked. I knew I was skiing well through training, I had a lot of people telling me it was there,” said Moltzan, adding it was “kind of mind-boggling” to put it down in the race.

“I am just really happy with how I skied and I am really happy that both Nina and I got into the top 15 today,” Moltzan said. “It’s really a strong statement for the U.S. to come into our first race this strong.”

Moltzan said the team got a lot of support from Shiffrin in the build-up to the race.

“I know it was a hard decision for her not to race but she’s been really helpful. She sat down with us and talked about the race hill,” Moltzan said. “I have been texting her all week and she was super supportive.”

A men’s GS on the same hill is scheduled for Sunday.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships TV, live stream schedule

U.S. Figure Skating Championships
U.S. Figure Skating
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The U.S. Figure Skating Championships, in some ways marking a new era in the sport, air live from San Jose, California, on NBC Sports, USA Network and Peacock.

After last February’s Olympics, U.S. figure skating saw its greatest turnover from one season to the next in more than 20 years.

Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou, the top two men last season, are not competing this season and may be done altogether. Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell, the top two women, retired. As did the top ice dance couple of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, last year’s national pairs’ champions, also left the sport.

So, for the first time since 1993, the U.S. Championships feature a reigning national champion in just one of the four disciplines.

Amid all that, U.S. skaters performed well in the fall Grand Prix Series and made the podium in all four disciplines at December’s Grand Prix Final for the first time. Note the absence of Russian skaters, banned from international events due to the war in Ukraine.

At nationals, skaters are vying for spots on the team — three per discipline — for March’s world championships in Japan.

Ilia Malinin, an 18-year-old from Virginia, is the headliner after becoming the first skater to land a quadruple Axel, doing so at all four of his events this season. He ranks second in the world by best total score, a whopping 38.28 points ahead of the next American (Camden Pulkinen).

Jason Brown is the lone Olympian in the men’s field, competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Games.

Isabeau Levito, 15 and a reigning world junior champion like Malinin, took silver at the Grand Prix Final against the world’s other top skaters. She enters nationals with a best score this season 18.13 points better than the next American, Amber Glenn. Bradie Tennell, a 2018 Olympian coming back from foot and ankle injuries, is also a threat to gain one of the three women’s spots at worlds.

Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates are the lone defending national champions and will likely make the podium for an 11th consecutive year, which would be one shy of the record.

Bates, who last year at 32 became the oldest U.S. champion in any discipline in decades, has made 12 career senior nationals podiums with Chock and former partner Emily Samuelson. It is believed that a 13th finish in the top three would break the U.S. record for a single discipline he currently shares with Michelle Kwan, Nathaniel Niles and Theresa Weld Blanchard.

In pairs, Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier return after missing nationals last year due to Frazier contracting COVID-19 the week of the event. Since, they posted the best U.S. pairs’ finish at an Olympics in 20 years, the first world title for a U.S. pair in 43 years and the first Grand Prix Final medal ever for a U.S. pair.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Live Broadcast Schedule

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Thursday Pairs’ Short Program 3:30-5:45 p.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Rhythm Dance 6:30-9 p.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Rhythm Dance 7-9 p.m. USA Network | STREAM LINK
Women’s Short Program 9:10 p.m.-12 a.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Women’s Short Program 10 p.m.-12 a.m. USA Network | STREAM LINK
Friday Men’s Short Program 4:10-7 p.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Men’s Short Program 5-7 p.m. USA Network
Women’s Free Skate 7:45-11 p.m. Peacock
Women’s Free Skate 8-11 p.m. NBC
Saturday Free Dance 1:45-4:30 p.m. Peacock
Free Dance 2:30-4:30 p.m. NBC
Pairs’ Free Skate 7:30-10 p.m. Peacock | Skate Order
Pairs’ Free Skate 8-10 p.m. USA Network
Sunday Men’s Free Skate 2:30-6 p.m. Peacock
Men’s Free Skate 3-6 p.m. NBC

*All NBC and USA Network broadcasts also stream on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Pairs Short Program
1. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 81.96
2. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 66.86
3. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea —- 65.75
4. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 63.45
5. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 63.12
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 56.96
7. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 50.72
8. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 46.96
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 46.81
10. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 45.27
11. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 43.99

Rhythm Dance
1. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 91.90
2. Caroline Green/Michael Parsons — 81.40
3. Emilea Zingas/Vadym Kolesnik — 78.18
4. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko — 77.37
5. Lorraine McNamara/Anton Spiridonov — 76.23
6. Emily Bratti/Ian Somerville — 75.91
7. Eva Pate/Logan Bye — 75.52
8. Isabella Flores/Ivan Desyatov — 73.91
9. Oona Brown/Gage Brown — 72.80
10. Katarina Wolfkostin/Jeffrey Chen — 69.05
11. Angela Ling/Caleb Wein — 68.53
12. Leah Krauskopf/YuanShi Jin — 52.59
13. Cara Murphy/Joshua Levitt — 50.88
14. Caroline Depietri/TJ Carey — 48.28
WD. Raffaella Koncius/Alexey Shchepetov

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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