In sequel to 2017, Karen Chen reprises her worlds role with the same aplomb

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Was this an episode of “The Twilight Zone”?

Or a spinoff using the plot of the movie, “Groundhog Day”?

And it may be said that those who fail to learn from history can be condemned to repeat it, but this was a case where Karen Chen’s redo came with as much to celebrate for U.S. figure skating as the original event at the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki.

This time, the historical record will show an even more unlikely path to the same outcome, which was having Chen’s free skate at the World Championships be the key to getting a third women’s singles spot for her country at the upcoming Olympics after a more decorated teammate had faltered.

You want more uncanny coincidence? Both took place in Nordic countries, first Finland, now Sweden.

And just as in 2017, Chen fought through mistakes on jumping passes late in her four-minute free program to come up with a good enough performance to succeed despite the pressure of a situation that, once again, she could not avoid being aware of.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | TV, Stream Schedule

Chen’s pleasantly surprising fourth place Friday at the World Championships in Stockholm, combined with Bradie Tennell’s disappointing ninth, added up to exactly the number, 13, that their finishes could not exceed for the U.S. to regain the third women’s spot they had lost in 2018.

This time, the process is not complete, however. A very confusingly written International Skating Union rule passed after the 2018 Olympics means the United States must confirm the third spot by having a skater compete at the Nebelhorn Trophy next fall, and it cannot use Chen or Tennell to do it. Mitch Moyer, high performance director for U.S. Figure Skating, said Saturday it was likely a top-nine finish at Nebelhorn would be necessary.

They cut it very close to land on 13. The difference between Chen and fifth-place finisher Loena Hendrickx of Belgium was just .00009 percent of their total scores, each a personal best: 208.63 for Chen and 208.44 for Hendrickx.

And, yes, fourth was the same place Chen finished in 2017, when the U.S. women had more breathing room because faltering rivals allowed Ashley Wagner to move up to seventh.

In a sport where the mantra is to focus only on yourself, Chen admitted in 2017 that seeing the standings before her free skate warmup had distracted her.

Fast-forward four years: she peeked again and saw that Tennell, who had skated in the previous group, stood lower than expected.

“I tried just to not look at anything, but before I got on the ice for my warmup I did happen to see what the placements looked like,” Chen said. “I felt myself tense up.

“I kind of gave myself a little pep talk and said, `Karen, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a distraction, but at the end of the day, you’re here to do your absolute best, and everything else is completely out of your control.’”

Chen, 21, said that during her first trip to the mixed zone after the free skate to speak with media (via Zoom). At that point, with Chen second and three skaters to go, all who began seven points or more ahead of her after the short program, it seemed the two U.S. finishes would total 14.

“It’s not finalized yet,” Chen said with a laugh, “but most likely it will just be two spots for us. Competing at worlds again [for the first time] since 2017 and being able to deliver two solid performances (both personal best scores) is a big win in my book.”

Thirty minutes later, after Rika Kihira of Japan stumbled repeatedly in her free skate and tumbled from second to seventh overall, Chen was back in the mixed zone to discuss the unforeseen reversal of fortune.

“I was in shock, for sure, because the situation wasn’t looking that great,” Chen said. “And really happy.”

ISU World Figure Skating Championships - Stockholm: Day Three

Chen, the 2017 U.S. champion, has had a very bumpy path the past three seasons, losing one to a foot injury, beginning the next in college at Cornell before taking a leave, dealing with the pandemic. She finished third at January’s U.S. Championships but earned the second world team spot in a selection procedure that weighs more than one season’s results.

“This season has been really different than any other season for me, where it was constantly good and bad, good and bad, good and bad,” Chen said. “This is the first season where I felt I kept building.”

Meanwhile, there also were medals awarded Friday, all three to Russians, making them the only country other than the United States in 1991 to sweep the women’s singles honors at worlds.

The free skates that got Anna Shcherbakova (233.17), Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva (220.46) and Aleksandra Trusova (217.20) onto the podium were hardly ones for the history books.

Shcherbakova, 16, became the fourth different Russian woman to win in the last six worlds despite trying just one of two expected quadruple jumps and falling on it. She also was dinged by the judges on a spin and a footwork sequence.

Tuktamysheva, the 2015 world champion and a grande dame at 24, fell once, got negative grades of execution on three jumping passes and struggled throughout the program.

Trusova, 16, like the winner a senior worlds rookie, had the chutzpah to attempt her five planned quadruple jumps despite (or maybe because of) a dismal 12th-place in Wednesday’s short program, which left her some 16 points behind leader Shcherbakova.

That Trusova fell on two quads (one also called under-rotated) and had a third downgraded became of little consequence. The base values of the jumps and some very generous component scores gave her enough points to win the free skate and snag the bronze medal when Kihira imploded (one fall, two downgrades), finishing ninth in the free.

(There is a one-point technical score deduction for a fall. That there is no mandatory component score penalty for a tumble is a discussion for another day.)

Hendrickx, 21, whose best previous finish at worlds was ninth, would have the skate of the day. She was the only one of the top seven overall with an errorless free skate, good enough for just fourth because it lacked the jump difficulty of those done by the three Russians.

Tennell, the reigning U.S. champion, was underwhelming in both the short program (seventh) and free skate (eighth). In the free, she had four jumps called under-rotated, leading to negative GOEs on three jumping passes.

“Everything felt very good,” Tennell insisted.

She cited issues with support in her right skating boot as a factor. Her coach, Tom Zakrajsek, said Tennell had brought another pair but they may have needed modifications on short notice.

“This entire competition did not go nearly according to plan,” Tennell said. “I am very disappointed in my skates, especially at such an important competition.”

In 2018, Chen wound up with the third Olympic spot she had saved a year earlier. If that becomes the case again, well…does anyone have an MP4 of the unforgettably eerie Twilight Zone theme?

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Olympic Winter Games, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.

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After an Olympic medal, Ryan Cochran-Siegle sets new goal going into Beaver Creek

Ryan Cochran-Siegle
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For all Ryan Cochran-Siegle accomplished in one special super-G last season — coming back from breaking his neck the year before in the world’s most daunting race to winning the U.S.’ lone Olympic Alpine skiing medal — he prefers to view that winter as a whole.

“It was kind of, I think, still a learning year,” he said in a recent interview. “I realize there was some definitely shortcomings as well [as success] with my races. I think I have a lot more to prove going forward.”

Notably, Cochran-Siegle said his downhill form wasn’t where he wanted it to be. After notching the U.S. men’s first World Cup downhill podium in nearly four years in the 2020-21 season, his best finish in the discipline last season before his Olympic super-G silver medal was sixth at Beaver Creek, Colorado, last December.

“I’d like to get my downhill skiing back to where it was the year prior,” he said. “I ended up doing well by the end of the year, but I think still missing the podium and all that, I’m trying to get more consistent.”

Cochran-Siegle returns to Beaver Creek for the annual Birds of Prey World Cup stop — airing on NBC Sports and Peacock this weekend — as the top hope to extend one American streak and to end one American drought.

The U.S. men’s Alpine team notched at least one World Cup podium every calendar year from 1999 through 2021. It was a regularity in the 2000s and early 2010s between Bode Miller and Ted Ligety. It hasn’t happened often recently, and not at all in 2022 with one month left. But there are plenty of opportunities, starting with a super-G on Friday and downhills Saturday and Sunday on home snow.

Americans often post their best results at Beaver Creek. Last year in a super-G, Travis Ganong picked up his first World Cup podium in nearly five years. In 2019, Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup victory in a giant slalom.

But it has been eight years (five races, more specifically) since an American made a downhill podium at Beaver Creek, the nation’s longest drought since it became an annual World Cup stop in 2004.

Cochran-Siegle opened the speed season last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta, by posting the best American finish of ninth in a downhill. It was his best result ever at Lake Louise, but it wasn’t satisfying.

“As a team we recognize today was a little bit of a letdown all said and done,” he said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “I think we’re definitely more capable than that.”

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Figure skating TV, live stream schedule for 2022-23 season

Ilia Malinin
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NBC Sports, USA Network, E! and Peacock combine to air live coverage throughout the figure skating season, starting with Skate America in two weeks.

From October to April, the platforms will combine to air more than 200 hours of coverage, including the Grand Prix Series (October to December), the U.S. Championships in January and the world championships in March.

Peacock will live stream coverage of every event at those major competitions throughout the season.

All NBC, USA and E! coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

Figure skating experienced more change this year than any other in recent history.

Russian skaters are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. None of the reigning Olympic gold medalists are entered in the fall Grand Prix Series. Yuzuru HanyuAlysa Liu and the ice dance couple of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue retired.

Enter American Ilia Malinin, the 17-year-old world junior champion who last month became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quadruple Axel in competition. Malinin and Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan duel at Skate America, the first top-level event of the season.

The U.S. also has the top returning ice dance couple of Madison Chock and Evan Bates, reigning world pairs’ champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier and Isabeau Levito (15) and Lindsay Thorngren (16), who took gold and bronze at last season’s junior worlds.

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2022-23 Figure Skating Season Broadcast Schedule

Date Competition Time (ET) Platform
Oct. 21 Skate America 7:20-8:45 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 21 Skate America 7:30-10:30 p.m. USA Network
Oct. 21 Skate America 8:45-10:30 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 22 Skate America 2:40-4:15 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 22 Skate America 3-6 p.m. NBC
Oct. 22 Skate America 4:15-6 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 22 Skate America 7:15-8:45 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 22 Skate America 8-11 p.m. USA Network
Oct. 22 Skate America 9-11 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 23 Skate America 1-2:45 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 23 Skate America 3-5 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 23 Skate America 2-5 p.m. E!
Oct. 28 Skate Canada 2-3:30 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 28 Skate Canada 3:45-5:15 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 28 Skate Canada 6:45-8 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 28 Skate Canada 8-9:45 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 29 Skate Canada 1:15-3:15 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 29 Skate Canada 3:25-5 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 29 Skate Canada 6-7:15 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 29 Skate Canada 7:30-9:30 p.m. Peacock
Oct. 30 Skate Canada Noon-1:30 p.m. NBC*
Nov. 4 Internationaux de France 8-9:30 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 4 Internationaux de France 10-11:20 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 4 Internationaux de France 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 4 Internationaux de France 1:45-3 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 5 Internationaux de France 8-10 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 5 Internationaux de France 10:10-11:45 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 5 Internationaux de France Noon-2 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 5 Internationaux de France 2:10-3 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 6 Internationaux de France 10 a.m.-Noon E!*
Nov. 12 Internationaux de France 2:30-4 p.m. NBC*
Nov. 11 Grand Prix: England 1-2:05 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 11 Grand Prix: England 2:25-4 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 12 Grand Prix: England 8:45-10 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 12 Grand Prix: England 10:20 a.m.-Noon Peacock
Nov. 12 Grand Prix: England 1:30-2:50 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 12 Grand Prix: England 3-5 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 13 Grand Prix: England 6:15-8:05 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 13 Grand Prix: England 8:20-10 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 13 Grand Prix: England 4-6 p.m. NBC*
Nov. 17 NHK Trophy 10:30-11:40 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 18 NHK Trophy 12:15-1:50 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 18 NHK Trophy 2:15-3:35 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 18 NHK Trophy 5-6:35 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 18 NHK Trophy 10-11:20 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 19 NHK Trophy 11:50 p.m.-1:40 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 19 NHK Trophy 2:50-4:25 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 19 NHK Trophy 5:30-7:20 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 20 NHK Trophy 4-6 p.m. NBC*
Nov. 25 Grand Prix: Finland 6-7:05 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 25 Grand Prix: Finland 7:50-9:20 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 25 Grand Prix: Finland 10:45 a.m.-12:20 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 26 Grand Prix: Finland 12:40-2 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 26 Grand Prix: Finland 5:45-7:05 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 26 Grand Prix: Finland 7:20-9:10 a.m. Peacock
Nov. 27 Grand Prix: Finland 11:15 a.m.-1:05 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 27 Grand Prix: Finland 1:25-3 p.m. Peacock
Nov. 27 Grand Prix: Finland 4-6 p.m. NBC*
Dec. 8 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 1:15-2:15 p.m. Peacock
Dec. 8 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 2:30-3:30 p.m. Peacock
Dec. 9 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Peacock
Dec. 9 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 1:45-2:45 p.m. Peacock
Dec. 9 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 3-4 p.m. Peacock
Dec. 10 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 7:30-8:30 a.m. Peacock
Dec. 10 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 6:30-7:30 a.m. E!*
Dec. 10 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 7:30-8:30 a.m. E!
Dec. 10 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 8:30-9:30 a.m. E!*
Dec. 10 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 1:40-2:40 p.m. Peacock
Dec. 10 Grand Prix Final (Torino) 3-4 p.m. Peacock
Dec. 11 Grand Prix: Final (Torino) 3:30-6 p.m. NBC*
Jan. 26 U.S. Championships 7-9 p.m. USA Network
Jan. 26 U.S. Championships 9:30 p.m.-Midnight Peacock
Jan. 26 U.S. Championships 10 p.m.-Midnight USA Network
Jan. 27 U.S. Championships 4:30-7 p.m. Peacock
Jan. 27 U.S. Championships 5-7 p.m. USA Network
Jan. 27 U.S. Championships 8-11 p.m. NBC
Jan. 28 U.S. Championships 2:30-4:30 p.m. NBC
Jan. 28 U.S. Championships 5-7 p.m. Peacock
Jan. 28 U.S. Championships 7-8 p.m. Peacock
Jan. 28 U.S. Championships 8-10 p.m. USA Network
Jan. 29 U.S. Championships 2:15-6 p.m. Peacock
Jan. 29 U.S. Championships 3-6 p.m. NBC
Feb. 5 U.S. Championships 4-6 p.m. NBC*
Jan. 25 European Championships 5:15-8:30 a.m. Peacock
Jan. 25 European Championships 10:20 a.m.-4 p.m. Peacock
Jan. 25 European Championships 2-4 p.m. E!
Jan. 26 European Championships 5-11 a.m. Peacock
Jan. 26 European Championships 9-11 a.m. E!
Jan. 26 European Championships Noon-3 p.m. Peacock
Jan. 27 European Championships 5-10 a.m. Peacock
Jan. 27 European Championships 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Peacock
Jan. 27 European Championships 1-3 p.m. E!
Jan. 28 European Championships 6-10 a.m. Peacock
Jan. 28 European Championships 8-10 a.m. E!
Jan. 28 European Championships 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Peacock
Feb. 5 European Championships 2-4 p.m. NBC*
Feb. 9 Four Continents Championships 2-6 p.m. Peacock
Feb. 9 Four Continents Championships 8 p.m.-Midnight Peacock
Feb. 10 Four Continents Championships 8 a.m.-Noon USA Network*
Feb. 10 Four Continents Championships 1:15-3:30 p.m. Peacock
Feb. 10 Four Continents Championships 4:25-7 p.m. Peacock
Feb. 10 Four Continents Championships 8 p.m.-Midnight Peacock
Feb. 11 Four Continents Championships Noon-2 p.m. E!*
Feb. 11 Four Continents Championships 4:25-7 p.m. Peacock
Feb. 11 Four Continents Championships 8 p.m.-Midnight Peacock
Feb. 12 Four Continents Championships 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. E!*
Feb. 12 Four Continents Championships 3-6 p.m. Peacock
Feb. 19 Four Continents Championships Noon-2 p.m. NBC*
Mar. 21 World Championships 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Peacock
Mar. 22 World Championships 1:45-8 a.m. Peacock
Mar. 22 World Championships 6-8 a.m. USA Network
Mar. 22 World Championships 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Peacock
Mar. 23 World Championships 1:45-8 a.m. Peacock
Mar. 23 World Championships 6-8 a.m. USA Network
Mar. 23 World Championships 8-10 a.m. USA Network*
Mar. 23 World Championships 9:45 p.m.-3:15 a.m. Peacock
Mar. 24 World Championships 4:15-8:30 a.m. Peacock
Mar. 24 World Championships 6:30-8:30 a.m. USA Network
Mar. 24 World Championships 11:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Peacock
Mar. 25 World Championships 4:15-8:30 a.m. Peacock
Mar. 25 World Championships 6:30-8:30 a.m. Peacock
Mar. 25 World Championships 8-10 p.m. NBC*
Apr. 9 World Championships 3-6 p.m. NBC*
Apr. 4 World Synchronized Skating Championships Noon-2 p.m. USA Network*
*taped coverage