2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships: What to watch on Friday

2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships - Day 1
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The U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the last competition to determine the Olympic team, continues Friday with the rhythm dance and women’s free skate, live from Nashville on USA Network, NBCOlympics.com and Peacock.

In the rhythm dance (4:30 p.m. ET), the top couples begin their bids to lock up one of three Olympic ice dance spots, which will be announced after Saturday’s free dance.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who combined to win the last four national titles, are favorites to again go one-two this weekend. It’s the last national championships for Hubbell and Donohue, who hope to end their Olympic careers next month with a medal after finishing fourth in 2018.

Chock and Bates plan to continue beyond this season. Nonetheless, Bates can become the first U.S. figure skater to compete in four Olympics.

The battle for the third Olympic spot is expected to come down to Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who have been third at every nationals in this Olympic cycle, and the newer team of Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, who formerly skated with siblings.

Rhythm Dance (4:30 p.m. ET) — STREAM LINK | LIVE RESULTS
Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker — 4:50 p.m.
Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue — 5:03 p.m.
Caroline Green/Michael Parsons — 5:23 p.m.
Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko — 5:30 p.m.
Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 5:43 p.m.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS PREVIEWS: MenIce Dance | Broadcast Schedule | Results

In the women’s free skate (8 p.m. ET), pre-event favorites Mariah BellKaren Chen and Alysa Liu made up the top three in the short program.

Liu then tested positive for the coronavirus Friday morning and withdrew, planning to petition for an Olympic spot. She has a strong case as the highest-ranked U.S. woman in the world this season.

Bell, the short program leader, can at age 25 became the oldest U.S. women’s champion in 95 years and the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s singles skater in 94 years, according to Olympedia.org. She bids for her first national title in her ninth senior nationals.

Chen, the lone 2018 Olympian in the field, is set to become the first U.S. women’s singles skater to compete in back-to-back Olympics since Sasha Cohen in 2002 and 2006.

They’re followed by Isabeau Levito, who at 14 is too young for this year’s Olympics, and Lindsay Thorngren, a 15-year-old who is Olympic eligible but has never competed on the top senior level.

Given the Olympic selection committee chooses the three-woman team based on the last year’s body of work, it might not be enough for Thorngren even if she moves past the more established Bell or Chen in the free skate. Same goes for 2014 Olympian Gracie Gold, who was sixth in the short program with her best skate in five years.

Women’s Free Skate (8 p.m. ET) — STREAM LINK | LIVE RESULTS
Isabeau Levito — 10:04 p.m.
Gracie Gold — 10:12 p.m.
Lindsay Thorngren — 10:20 p.m.
Mariah Bell — 10:28 p.m.
Alysa Liu — 10:36 p.m.
Karen Chen — 10:44 p.m.

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