WATCH LIVE: U.S. Figure Skating Championships pairs, women’s short programs

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The U.S. Figure Skating Championships open with the pairs’ and women’s short programs on Thursday, live on NBCSN and Peacock Premium.

In pairs (6 p.m. ET), three-time U.S. champion Alexa Knierim competes with a new partner, 2017 U.S. champion Brandon Frazier. Knierim’s husband, Chris, retired after the couple won last year’s national title.

Their top challengers include 2019 U.S. champions Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc and Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson, the surprise 2020 U.S. silver medalists.

Two pairs will be selected after Saturday’s free skate to compete at March’s world championships.

WATCH LIVE: Pairs’ Short Program, 6 p.m. ET — Peacock Stream | NBCSN Stream | Skate Order

Key Skate Times
6:21 p.m. ET — Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier
6:35 — Ashley Cain-Gribble/Timothy LeDuc
6:48 — Jessica Calalang/Brian Johnson

Alysa Liu, who in 2019 became the youngest U.S. champion ever at age 13, could become the first woman since Michelle Kwan to three-peat at nationals. Short program coverage begins at 9:10 p.m. ET on Peacock and 10 on NBCSN.

Liu, after a growth spurt, a hip injury and coaching changes, is not expected to attempt any triple Axels or quadruple jumps at nationals. More on that here.

That swings the door wide open for 2018 U.S. champion Bradie Tennell and 2020 Skate America winner Mariah Bell, plus more skaters eyeing a podium spot and, potentially, a place on the two-woman team for worlds. Liu is too young for senior worlds.

WATCH LIVE: Women’s Short Program — Peacock (9:10 p.m.) | NBCSN (10 p.m.) | Skate Order

Key Skate Times
9:48 p.m. ET — Audrey Shin
10:15 — Mariah Bell
10:35 — Starr Andrews
10:41 — Karen Chen
11:11 — Amber Glenn
11:18 — Alysa Liu
11:31 — Gracie Gold
11:44 — Bradie Tennell

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen

Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan

Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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