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
|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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