Decorated pairs’ skaters Vanessa James, Eric Radford team up for Olympic season

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Pairs’ figure skaters Vanessa James and Eric Radford, both two-time Olympians and world and Grand Prix Final medalists with different partners and for different nations, have announced they are teaming up in time for the 2022 Olympic season.

Representing Canada, the team will train in Ontario under coach Julie Marcotte.

“Our goal is obviously to go to the Olympics,” James told CBC. “It’s a goal, a dream for us to get to the Olympics. Hopefully an Olympic medal. But it’s a process. So we’re going to take it a step at a time.”

Though she was born in Scarborough, Ontario, James has previously skated for the United States, Great Britain and France. Representing the latter with Morgan Ciprès for eight seasons, she won the 2018 Grand Prix Final and 2019 European Championships. Their resume also includes the 2018 world bronze medal, six Grand Prix medals and six French national titles.

The French federation announced the retirement of James and Ciprès in September 2020. A felony charge was filed by the Pasco County, Florida, state attorney’s office against Ciprès in December for the transmission of harmful material to a minor by an electronic device, and a warrant was issued for his arrest, according to a law firm involved in the case. Ciprès has not publicly commented on the case.

Radford is a two-time world champion (2015, 2016) and 2018 Olympic pairs’ bronze medalist for Canada with Meagan Duhamel. Both skaters announced their retirement in April 2018 after a career that also included two Olympic team event medals, a Grand Prix Final title, two Four Continents titles, two world bronze medals, over a dozen Grand Prix medals and seven Canadian championships.

“I’m looking forward to this new partnership with Vanessa and getting back on the ice and doing what we love,” Radford said in a Skate Canada release. “Vanessa and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to represent Canada this coming season and are looking forward to see what the future holds for our partnership.”

Duhamel, his partner of eight seasons, took to social media following the announcement, saying she had been “blindsided by my friend and partner.”

“I was not asked if I’d be interested in a comeback nor was I notified that Eric was considering a comeback,” her note continued. “Even if I had no intention of returning, I think a chat with me BEFOREHAND would have been respectful.”

James, 33, and Radford, 36, will be one of the oldest pairs’ teams on the scene but will benefit from their lengthy previous partnerships spent as podium contenders, and potentially from the break their bodies have had. James last competed in April 2019 and Radford in February 2018.

Canada secured two Olympic pairs’ spots for Beijing based on the results of last month’s world championships. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro are heavy favorites for one of those, after winning the last two Canadian titles and finishing in the top-10 at all four of their worlds appearances.

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Peter Sagan to retire from road cycling, eyes mountain bike at 2024 Paris Olympics

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Peter Sagan said 2023 will be his final year as a professional road cyclist and that he will target the 2024 Olympics in mountain bike.

The Slovakian made the announcement on his 33rd birthday in a social media video. He said he made the decision “quite some time ago.”

“I always said I would like to finish my career on the mountain bike, because I started my career on the mountain bike,” Sagan said in a press conference, according to Cyclingnews.com. “It gives me some pleasure at the end of my career because I’m doing something I really enjoy.

“It’s important for me to spend time with my son Marlon and to see life from different angles, and not just as a cyclist. It was never my dream to race or to be a professional rider until 40 or 50. I think it’s time now. And if I am going to be able to finish my career in Paris at the Olympics Games, that’s going to be something nice for me.”

Sagan is a record seven-time Tour de France green jersey champion as best sprinter. He has 12 individual stage wins (the last in 2019), second-most among active riders behind Mark Cavendish‘s record-tying 34.

At the Olympics, Sagan was 34th in the road race in 2012 and 35th in the mountain bike in 2016. He missed the Tokyo Games after surgery to treat an infection in his right knee stemming from a 2021 Tour de France crash.

Sagan won the world junior title in mountain biking at age 18 in 2008 before his road racing career, which included three consecutive world road race titles from 2015-17.

Of qualifying for Paris in the mountain bike, he said, “We’ll see whether it is even possible, but I think it can be another nice adventure.”

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

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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.