NHK Trophy: U.S. figure skaters eye Grand Prix Final berths; TV, live stream schedule

Madison Chock, Evan Bates
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This week’s NHK Trophy will be decisive for several U.S. figure skaters eyeing spots in December’s Grand Prix Final, the most important competition of the fall and often a preview of March’s world championships.

NHK Trophy, which airs live on Peacock, features American women, a pair and ice dancers vying for the Final, which takes the top six per discipline from the six-event Grand Prix Series. NHK in Japan is the fourth of six events, and skaters compete twice over the series, so some skaters have already qualified.

Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates head the U.S. contingent this week. The three-time world medalists won Skate America last month and will clinch a Grand Prix Final spot by finishing third or higher at NHK.

They would be the first U.S. skaters in any discipline to qualify for seven Grand Prix Finals (if including last year, when the Final was canceled after the qualifying series finished) and the second to compete in six Finals after 2014 Olympic ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

Bates, 33, can break the record for oldest American to qualify for a Final currently held by pairs’ skater Todd Sand from the 1996-97 season. Bates is already the only U.S. figure skater to compete in four Winter Olympics and the oldest to win a medal (in the team event).

This season, Chock and Bates rank fifth in the world by best total score (202.80). Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who are not in the NHK field, have the best score of 215.70. None of the Olympic ice dance medalists are competing internationally this fall.

NHK Trophy Broadcast Schedule

Day Time (ET) Event Platform
Thursday 10:30 p.m. Pairs’ Short Peacock
Friday 12:15 a.m. Women’s Short Peacock
2:15 a.m. Rhythm Dance Peacock
5 a.m. Men’s Short Peacock
10 p.m. Pairs’ Free Peacock
11:50 p.m. Women’s Free Peacock
Saturday 2:50 a.m. Free Dance Peacock
5:30 a.m. Men’s Free Peacock
Sunday 4 p.m. Highlights NBC | NBC Sports app

While Chock and Bates are podium regulars, Americans Starr Andrews and Amber Glenn enter NHK coming off their first Grand Prix medals. Andrews, with her silver at Skate Canada two weeks ago, became the first Black American to make a Grand Prix podium. Andrews and Glenn likely need to finish in the top three again this week for any shot at the Grand Prix Final.

It’s a tall order. NHK has arguably the best women’s field of the six Grand Prix events, including world champion Kaori Sakamoto, Skate Canada winner Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, and South Korean Kim Ye-Lim, who was second at Grand Prix France.

Another American, Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion, is not competing at NHK but can clinch her Grand Prix Final spot depending on other skaters’ results this week. At 15, she would be the youngest American to make a Final in 15 years.

World champion Shoma Uno of Japan headlines the men’s field. Uno, who won Skate Canada with 273.15 points, ranks third in the world this season by best total score. American Ilia Malinin, who is not at NHK, leads with 280.37 points.

NHK also has the world’s top-ranked pairs’ team of Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan. The next-highest-ranked pairs’ team at NHK is the U.S. duo of Emily Chan and Spencer Howe. Chan and Howe, fourth at last season’s nationals, will clinch their first Grand Prix Final berth if they repeat their runner-up finish from Skate Canada.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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