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

 

Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races.

“What she did at the Olympics versus what she did in this run, two completely different things,” NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said on the Peacock broadcast, adding that it was “an error of aggression.” “It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out. This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

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2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships results

Mikaela Shiffrin World Championships
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Top 10 and notable results from the 2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships in Meribel and Courchevel, France …

Women’s Combined
Gold: Federica Brignone (ITA) — 1:57.47
Silver: Wendy Holdener (SUI) — +1.62
Bronze: Ricarda Haaser (AUT) — +2.26
4. Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT) — +2.48
5. Franziska Gritsch (AUT) — +2.71
6. Michelle Gisin (SUI) — +3.43
7. Laura Gauche (FRA) — +3.71
8. Emma Aicher (GER) — +3.78
9. Elena Curtoni (ITA) — +4.05
10. Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) — +4.91
13. Bella Wright (USA) — +6.21
DQ (slalom). Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
DNS (slalom). Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI)
DNS (slalom). Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR)
DNS (slalom). Sofia Goggia (ITA)
DNF (super-G). Marta Bassino (ITA)
DNF (super-G). Breezy Johnson (USA)
DNF (super-G). Tricia Mangan (USA)

Men’s Combined (Feb. 7)
Women’s Super-G (Feb. 8)
Men’s Super-G (Feb. 9)
Women’s Downhill (Feb. 11)
Men’s Downhill (Feb. 12)
Team Parallel (Feb. 14)
Men’s Parallel (Feb. 15)
Women’s Parallel (Feb. 15)
Women’s Giant Slalom (Feb. 16)
Men’s Giant Slalom (Feb. 17)
Women’s Slalom (Feb. 18)
Men’s Slalom (Feb. 19)

ALPINE WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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