The U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the last competition to determine the Olympic team, begins Thursday with the pairs’ and women’s short programs, live from Nashville on USA Network, NBCOlympics.com and Peacock.
In pairs (5 p.m. ET), the withdrawal Wednesday night of national champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier changed the dynamic. Knierim and Frazier will now petition for one of two Olympic pairs’ spots. If any team could successfully petition, it’s Knierim and Frazier, who were also the better U.S. pair at last season’s world championships and the top-scoring U.S. pair on the fall Grand Prix Series.
If a selection committee grants the petition — not expected to be decided until after the pairs’ competition ends Saturday — then the remaining teams will vie for one Olympic spot. Three pairs are primary contenders.
Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc put up a score at their most recent Grand Prix event that’s .18 shy of Knierim and Frazier’s best this season.
Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson have never competed at a world championships but were second at the last two nationals.
Then there’s Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov, who ride momentum after winning a lower-level event in Croatia in December, beating a field that included Knierim and Frazier and Calalang and Johnson.
In the women’s short (8:30 p.m. ET), two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu stands out among four established skaters eyeing three Olympic spots. Liu, who in 2019 became the youngest U.S. senior champion at age 13, has the top score by an American this season.
She’s followed in the domestic rankings by Mariah Bell (2020 U.S. silver medalist), Karen Chen (2018 Olympian) and Amber Glenn (2021 U.S. silver medalist).
Isabeau Levito, the 14-year-old, reigning U.S. junior champion, could shake up the podium, but she’s too young for this year’s Olympics.
Bradie Tennell, the top American at the 2018 Olympics (ninth place) and reigning U.S. senior champion, withdrew last week due to a chronic foot injury that has sidelined her all season.
Women’s Short Program (8:30 p.m. ET) — STREAM LINK | LIVE RESULTS
Isabeau Levito — 8:38 p.m.
Gracie Gold — 8:51 p.m.
Starr Andrews — 8:57 p.m.
Amber Glenn — 9:04 p.m.
Mariah Bell — 9:49 p.m.
Karen Chen — 9:56 p.m.
Audrey Shin — 10:02 p.m.
Alysa Liu — 10:09 p.m.
Lindsay Thorngren — 10:15 p.m.
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