Twelve of the top U.S. singles figure skaters can be seen competing in a unique team format Sunday, Nov. 15, from 4-6 p.m. ET on NBC.
A lineup including two-time world champion Nathan Chen, 2020 Skate America winner Mariah Bell and two-time reigning U.S. champion Alysa Liu skate for either Team Tara or Team Johnny, representing NBC announcers and Olympians Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir.
“Any opportunity that we get to perform given this unprecedented time and season, it’s a great opportunity for us,” Chen said in a press release. “It’s a fun experience. I’m happy that HomeLight and U.S. Figure Skating did everything they could to put this together. It’s going to be a fun event.”
Terry Gannon will call the event and is joined by Lipinski and Weir, who coach their teams of three men and three women from the broadcast booth.
The Las Vegas Invitational was created by U.S. Figure Skating and HomeLight as an additional competition opportunity and a way to compensate for the lack of financial opportunities skaters have had during the Covid-19 pandemic. The prize money totals $50,000.
Ten of the skaters were invited based on a combination of their world ranking and 2019-2020 season’s best score, while Ilia Malinin and Audrey Shin were selected based on their performances at Skate America. The Las Vegas Invitational was taped two days after Skate America concluded. Each skater performed a free skate, and the scores were added together for a total team score.
Teams are as follows:
Team Tara Starr Andrews
Audrey Shin Bradie Tennell
Team Johnny Mariah Bell
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, is her top remaining challenger in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round. No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who has three wins over Swiatek this year, withdrew before her third-round match due to illness.
No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the top hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.