Grand Prix France the land of figure skating opportunity; TV, live stream schedule

Loena Hendrickx
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The absences of Russians and on-break or retired Olympic stars make this figure skating season the most wide open in recent memory. The clearest example to date is this week’s Grand Prix de France, the third of six regular season stops to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final.

Belgian Loena Hendrickx, the world silver medalist, headlines the competition Friday and Saturday, live on Peacock. Hendrickx is the lone Olympic or world medalist in the field, creating opportunities for career-defining results across the four disciplines.

Hendrickx was fifth at the 2021 World Championships, then fourth at the 2022 European Championships to establish herself as the top European woman outside of the Russians. When the Russians were banned before last year’s worlds due to the war in Ukraine, Hendrickx grabbed silver by improving her score 10.91 points from an eighth-place Olympic finish.

This week, Hendrickx can become the first woman outside of Russia, Japan, the U.S. and Canada to win a full-fledged Grand Prix since Finland’s Kiira Korpi in 2012 and the first Belgian to win a Grand Prix in any discipline. Hendrickx, who turns 23 on Saturday, can become the oldest woman to win a full-fledged Grand Prix since American Ashley Wagner at 2016 Skate America.

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe won the first two Grand Prix events with 217.61 and 197.59 points, respectively. Hendrickx will look to challenge those totals while holding off South Korean Kim Ye-Lim, who won B-level events in September and October with a top score of 213.97.

Other notables in action in France include Japanese veteran men’s singles skater Kazuki Tomono, who was sixth at worlds. Tomono has three Grand Prix podiums but no victories.

The pairs’ story may be Canadians Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps, runners-up at Skate America two weeks ago. Stellato-Dudek, 39, earned her first senior Grand Prix medal, 22 years after her Grand Prix debut as a singles skater. Stellato-Dudek, who retired from singles skating at age 17 due to hip injuries, came back at 32 in pairs in 2016.

Italians Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri can win their first Grand Prix ice dance title after second- or third-place finishes in their last seven Grand Prix starts, including the 2018 Grand Prix Final.

Grand Prix de France Broadcast Schedule

Day Time (ET) Event Platform
Friday 8 a.m. Women’s Short Peacock
10 a.m. Rhythm Dance Peacock
11:45 a.m. Men’s Short Peacock
1:45 p.m. Pairs’ Short Peacock
Saturday 8 a.m. Women’s Free Peacock
10:10 a.m. Free Dance Peacock
12 p.m. Men’s Free Peacock
2:10 p.m. Pairs’ Free Peacock
Sunday 10 a.m. Highlights E! | NBC Sports app

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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