Mariah Bell wins Skate America, a next step to defying Olympic history

Mariah Bell
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Mariah Bell took an unconventional career route to winning a unique Skate America. It may be the latest in a series of stepping stones to an extraordinary Olympic appearance.

Bell, 24, prevailed in an empty Orleans Arena in Las Vegas — save some judges, officials and cardboard cutouts — to prevail by a slim 1.66 points over 2018 U.S. champion and PyeongChang Olympian Bradie Tennell.

Bell held on despite falling on her last jump, a triple Lutz, and not having a triple-triple combination in her free skate. Her other jumps were of such high quality, and her artistic component scores so strong, that she didn’t lose all of her 3.19-point lead from Friday’s short program.

“Wasn’t my best skate today,” Bell said. “It was a little shaky, and I felt a little bit stiff.”

Audrey Shin, the 16-year-old, 2019 U.S. junior silver medalist who failed to qualify for last season’s senior nationals, held onto third place by landing seven triples in her free.

Later Saturday, Nathan Chen won the men’s event (more on that here), Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Brandon Frazier took the pairs’ title and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue three-peated in ice dance.

SKATE AMERICA: Full Results | Grand Prix Fields

Bell, yet to make an Olympic team, won a top-level competition for the first time in a career that is up to seven senior seasons.

“I try not to look too much at outcomes, more how I feel,” she said after an ABBA medley free skate that intentionally takes her out of her comfort zone. “I’m walking away from this performance a little disappointed, but I look back at nationals [in January], and that was a program I was really proud of.”

She was due, arguably entering as the favorite after taking silver at nationals with a captivating “Halleljuah” free skate (referenced in that quote). (Two-time reigning U.S. champion Alysa Liu, at 15, isn’t old enough for senior international events like Skate America until next season.)

Skate America usually includes top skaters from around the world. This year, due to coronavirus pandemic travel concerns, it’s mostly American skaters and closer to a national championships preview.

Liu, Bell, Tennell, Shin and 2018 Olympian Karen Chen are the key players for the 2022 U.S. Olympic team, which will be two or three spots, depending on results at the world championships in March.

Bell broke out with a silver medal at Skate America in 2016, made the 2017 Worlds team (finished 12th) and was second alternate for the 2018 Olympics after placing fifth at those nationals.

If Bell, the oldest of that group of five contenders, does qualify for the Beijing Winter Games, she will become the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s singles skater since 1928, according to

“I hate it but I love it when people talk about age,” Bell, who trains under Rafael Arutunian, the same coach as Nathan Chen, and has former training partner Adam Rippon as a part-time coach, said before Skate America. “I would never use my age as any kind of an excuse. There’s no reason why me being 24 would make anything harder. I should be more in tune with my body and have a better understanding.”

Before she can think of the Olympics, another challenge: trying to supplant Liu, the only U.S. woman with a quad or a triple Axel (she has both), as national champion in January. Bell can become the oldest U.S. women’s champion post-World War II.

Tennell, the top U.S. woman internationally the last three seasons, had the highest-scoring free skate. That came after minor injuries prevented her from doing combination jumps until nine days before the competition.

“I had a lot of things thrown at me the last month and a half,” said Tennell, who changed coaches from Denise Myers to Tom Zakrajsek in the offseason, moving from her native Chicagoland to Colorado Springs. “To be able to come out here and compete like that for the first time in eight months, I feel really great. There’s a lot of room to grow.”

If this had been a normal year, Shin would have competed on the (now canceled) Junior Grand Prix rather than at Skate America.

She took advantage of the situation, despite a difficult previous season — May 2019 surgery to remove a cyst from her right ankle that kept her off the ice for about a month, followed by boot and blade issues that contributed to her not qualifying for last January’s nationals.

Shin is working on a quadruple toe loop and a triple Axel with coach Tammy Gambill in Colorado.

“[Gambill] told me, Skate America is a chance for you to show how much more consistent you are now,” Shin said. “After Skate America, you want to get that world team spot and you want to get that Olympic spot.”

Gracie Gold, a two-time U.S. champion who was fourth at the 2014 Olympics and is on the comeback trail, finished 12th of 12 skaters in both programs at Skate America. Gold left figure skating before the 2018 Olympic season to receive treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

In Vegas, she struggled technically, landing one fully rotated triple jump. Gold was “terrified” to skate Friday after a difficult last two months that included a leg injury and blade and boot problems.

“I just cried most of the day yesterday because of how scared I was to compete,” she said after Saturday’s free skate. “We’re going back to the drawing board, I don’t know, I guess to salvage what we can in the wreckage, but we’re a little worse off than I thought.”

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich

A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships TV, live stream schedule


Every race of the world Alpine skiing championships airs live on Peacock from Feb. 6-19.

France hosts the biennial worlds in Meribel and Courchevel — six women’s races, six men’s races and one mixed-gender team event.

Mikaela Shiffrin is the headliner, in the midst of her most successful season in four years with a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts. Shiffrin is up to 85 career World Cup victories, one shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record accumulated over the 1970s and ’80s.

World championships races do not count in the World Cup tally.

Shiffrin is expected to race at least four times at worlds, starting with Monday’s combined. She earned a medal in 11 of her 13 career world championships races, including each of the last 10 dating to 2015.

Shiffrin won at least one race at each of the last five world championships (nobody has gold from six different worlds). Her six total golds and 11 total medals are American records. At this edition, she can become the most decorated skier in modern world championships history from any nation.

She enters one medal shy of the record for most individual world championships medals since World War II (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt) and four medals shy of the all-time record. (Worlds were held annually in the 1930s, albeit with fewer races.)

She is also one gold medal shy of the post-World War II individual record shared by Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson.

The other favorites at these worlds include Italian Sofia Goggia, the world’s top female downhiller this season, and the two leading men: Swiss Marco Odermatt (No. 1 in super-G and giant slalom) and Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (No. 1 in downhill).

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships Broadcast Schedule

Date Event Time (ET) Platform
Mon., Feb. 6 Women’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Tues., Feb. 7 Men’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 8 Women’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 9 Men’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 11 Women’s Downhill 5 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Men’s Downhill 5 a.m Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Tue., Feb. 14 Team Parallel 6:15 a.m. Peacock
Men’s/Women’s Parallel Qualifying 11 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 15 Men’s/Women’s Parallel 6 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 16 Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Fri., Feb. 17 Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 18 Women’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 19 Men’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock

*Delayed broadcast
*All NBC coverage streams on and the NBC Sports app for TV subscribers.

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