U.S. figure skating history at stake at NHK Trophy; TV, live stream schedule

Alysa Liu
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Alysa Liu can become the youngest American singles skater to make a Grand Prix podium in 14 years. Vincent Zhou can qualify for his first Grand Prix Final. Madison Chock and Evan Bates can tie the U.S. record for Grand Prix Final berths.

It’s even possible that Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc achieve a rare feat for a U.S. pair this weekend — earning a medal at two Grand Prix stops in one season.

Big-name withdrawals at NHK Trophy, the fourth of six Grand Prix Series stops, put Americans in a greater spotlight this week in Tokyo. Coverage live streams on Peacock starting Thursday night. NBC airs a highlight show Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.

NHK Trophy was to feature two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, countrywoman Rika Kihira and Russian jumping queen Aleksandra Trusova. But all three withdrew due to injury.

Some of America’s best can benefit. Liu, who won national titles at 13 and 14, is now 16 and coming off a fifth-place finish in her senior Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada two weeks ago. Liu won three lower-level international events before that, and only faces one Russian at NHK versus three at Skate Canada.

Should Liu make the podium, she will be the youngest U.S. women’s medalist on the circuit since Caroline Zhang, who won three medals before turning 16. Liu’s chances may hinge on her triple Axel. She landed it in the Skate Canada short program (under-rotated) and fell in the free skate.

Zhou is the men’s favorite, given he won Skate America with seven quadruple jumps three weeks ago. He defeated world champion Nathan Chen and Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno at that event and gets Uno again this week. The list of U.S. men to win both of their Grand Prix Series (pre-Final) stops in one season: Chen, Johnny WeirTodd Eldredge.

Chock and Bates took silver behind training partners Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue at Skate America. With a win at NHK, they can match Hubbell and Donohue with 28 points atop the Grand Prix standings. With a podium finish of any kind, they can plan their travel to Osaka for December’s Grand Prix Final. It would be their sixth Final, tying the U.S. record held by Meryl Davis and Charlie White (and soon to be shared by Hubbell and Donohue). Chock and Bates must get past world champions Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia for their first Grand Prix gold in six years.

Pairs at NHK should be a Russian battle between reigning world champions Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Gallyamov and three-time world medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov. Cain-Gribble and LeDuc are coming off a bronze at Skate Canada, albeit with a lower total score than two other U.S. pairs tallied in non-medal performances at Skate America.

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2021 NHK Trophy Broadcast Schedule

Day Time (ET) Event Network
Thursday 10:30 p.m. Pairs’ Short Peacock | STREAM LINK
Friday 12:20 a.m. Rhythm Dance Peacock | STREAM LINK
2:10 a.m. Women’s Short Peacock | STREAM LINK
5 a.m. Men’s Short Peacock | STREAM LINK
10:20 p.m. Pairs’ Free Peacock | STREAM LINK
Saturday 12:45 a.m. Free Dance Peacock | STREAM LINK
2:40 a.m. Women’s Free Peacock | STREAM LINK
5:30 a.m. Men’s Free Peacock | STREAM LINK
Sunday 4 p.m. Highlights NBC | STREAM LINK


Russia, Belarus hockey teams will return to top division world championships if ban lifted

Russia Hockey

Russia and Belarus national men’s ice hockey teams and Russia’s women’s team will be placed in the top-level world championships in 2023 if their current bans from competition are lifted by next spring.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced Friday that Russia and Belarus teams, if and when their suspensions are lifted, will return to the divisions that they occupied prior to their until-further-notice bans due to the war in Ukraine last February.

The IIHF said that the number of teams in the world championships will remain the same (16 for the men, 10 for the women), meaning that Russia and Belarus would take the place of teams that qualified, with those teams moving into a lower division world championship.

“There would be no promotion,” in that scenario, according to the IIHF. Last year, Slovenia and Hungary earned promotion into the top-level men’s world championship. France earned promotion into the top-level women’s world championship.

In many Olympic sports, qualifying for one year’s world championships is based on the previous year’s world championships results. With Russia and Belarus banned from most world championships in 2022, international federations must be decide how to reintegrate Russia and Belarus into world championships and Olympic qualifying if and when bans are lifted.

“To be clear, this decision does not indicate a return of the Russian and Belarusian teams to IIHF competition,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said in a press release. “Congress needed to take this decision so that the IIHF members understand the terms of a future reintegration of these countries into the IIHF program. The IIHF Council will continue to monitor the war in Ukraine.”

Teams of Russian men’s players earned gold and silver medals at the last two Olympics. Those teams could not compete under the Russian flag due to the national ban over doping sanctions. Russia’s women last earned a medal at the 2016 World Championship.

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U.S., China set for FIBA Women’s World Cup gold-medal game

FIBA Women's World Cup Basketball

SYDNEY — Breanna Stewart and the United States used a dominant defensive effort to beat Canada and reach the gold-medal game of the FIBA Women’s World Cup for the fourth consecutive tournament.

Stewart scored 17 points and the Americans raced out to an early lead to put away Canada 83-43 on Friday, reaching a Saturday gold-medal game with China. The 43 points was the fewest scored in a semifinal game in World Cup history.

“Canada has been playing really well all tournament and the goal was just to come out there and really limit them,” said U.S. forward Alyssa Thomas. “We were really locked in from the jump with our game plan.”

China edged host Australia 61-59 in the later semifinal to reach its first global championship game since the 1994 Worlds, the last time it won a medal of any color. The U.S. beat China 77-63 in group play last Saturday, the Americans’ closest game of the tournament.

“Our goal was to to win a gold medal and we’re in position to do that,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.

The U.S. (7-0), which is on a record pace for points and margin of victory in the tournament, took control of the game early scoring the first 15 points. The Americans contested every shot on the defensive end as the Canadians missed their first nine attempts from the field. On the offensive end, Stewart, A’ja Wilson and Thomas basically got any shot they wanted.

“I think after that punch, it really took the air out of them,” Thomas said. “They didn’t know what to do with their offense anymore after that.”

MORE: FIBA World Cup Schedule, Results

Laeticia Amihere, who plays at South Carolina for former U.S. coach Dawn Staley, finally got Canada on the board nearly 5 minutes into the game making a driving layup.

By the end of the quarter the U.S. led 27-7. Canada had committed four turnovers — the same number the team had against Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals which was the lowest total in a game in 30 years.

The Americans were up 45-21 at the half and the lead kept expanding in the final 20 minutes. The win was the biggest margin for the U.S. in the medal round topping the 36-point victory over Spain in the 2010 World Cup.

Canada (5-2) advanced to the medal round for the first time since 1986 and has a chance to win its first medal since taking the bronze that year.

“We didn’t get it done today, but what we’re going to do is take this with what we learned today and how we can turn it up tomorrow,” Canada captain Natalie Achonwa said. “It’s still a game for a medal and it’s just as important for us.”

The U.S. has won seven of the eight meetings with Canada in the World Cup, although the last one came in 2010. The lone victory for Canada came in 1975.

The victory was the 29th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals against Russia. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-86. This is only the second time in the Americans’ storied history they’ve reached four consecutive gold-medal contests. They also did it from 1979-90, winning three times.

This U.S. team, which has so many new faces on it, is on pace to break many of the team’s records that include scoring margin and points per game. The Americans also continued to dominate the paint even without 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner, outscoring its opponents by an average of 55-24.

Amihere led Canada with eight points.


The low point total broke the mark of 53 that South Korea scored against Russia in 2002.

“We’re starting to build that identity,” Wilson said of the defensive effort. “We’re quick and scrappy and I think that’s our identity.”

The U.S. is averaging 101 points a game. The team’s best mark ever coming into the tournament was 99.1 set in 1994.


Kahleah Copper sat out after injuring her left hip in the win over Serbia in the quarterfinals. Copper landed hard on her hip driving to the basket and had to be helped off the court. She hopes to play on Saturday. Betnijah Laney, who also got hurt in the Serbia game, did play against Canada.

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