Madison Chock, Evan Bates lead group of U.S. figure skaters to qualify for Grand Prix Final

Madison Chock, Evan Bates
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Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates led a group of five U.S. figure skaters to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final after the NHK Trophy event finished on Saturday.

Chock and Bates, three-time world medalists, finished runner-up to Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen at NHK in Japan, the fifth of six Grand Prix Series events that act as qualifiers for the Final, which takes the top six per discipline from the season.

The Final is often a preview of March’s world championships.

Chock and Bates qualified for the Final by combining their win at Skate America in October with their runner-up at NHK.

They became 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). They will tie the U.S. record of six Grand Prix Final starts held by 2014 Olympic ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

Bates, 33, broke the record of oldest American to qualify for a Final 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).

Chock and Bates will look for their first Grand Prix Final title, and the biggest international title of their careers, after silver medals at the event in 2014, 2015 and 2019.

They rank fifth in the world this season by best total score (209.13 points). Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who have not gone head-to-head with Chock and Bates this season, rank first with 215.70 points.

None of the Olympic medalists from February are competing this fall: French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are taking at least this season off. Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov are banned indefinitely, along with all Russian skaters, due to the war in Ukraine. Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue retired.

NHK Trophy highlights air Sunday on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

MORE: NHK Trophy Results | Season Broadcast Schedule

Also Saturday, world champion Shoma Uno of Japan won the men’s event with the world’s second-best total score this season (279.76). Only American Ilia Malinin has scored higher this season (280.37 to win Skate America).

Uno and Malinin will go head-to-head for the first time this fall at the Grand Prix Final, should Malinin have a decent result at his second Grand Prix start next week in Finland.

Also at NHK, Yelim Kim held off world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan to become the second South Korean to win a Grand Prix after 2010 Olympic champion Yuna Kim.

The NHK results also ensured world junior champion Isabeau Levito earned a place in the Final with her second-place finishes at two prior Grand Prix events. Levito, 15, is the youngest American to qualify for a Final since Caroline Zhang in 2007.

Fellow Americans Starr Andrews and Amber Glenn followed their first Grand Prix podiums earlier this season by placing ninth and 11th at NHK. They needed podium finishes to remain in contention to qualify for the Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the pairs’ title at NHK, improving on their world-leading score this season. Americans Emily Chan and Spencer Howe were second to join the Japanese in the Grand Prix Final. Americans Brandon Frazier and Alexa Knierim, the world champions, and Canadians Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps qualified for the Final earlier this month.

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2022 Grand Prix Final figure skating TV, live stream schedule

Ilia Malinin
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The Grand Prix Final, the most exclusive figure skating competition of the season and a preview of March’s world championships, airs live on Peacock and E! this week.

The top six per discipline from the six-event fall Grand Prix Series gather in Turin, Italy, at the Palavela, the 2006 Olympic venue. It’s the first Grand Prix Final in three years after the 2020 and 2021 events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. qualified skaters in all four disciplines for the first time since 2007, led by the world’s top-ranked man. Ilia Malinin, who turned 18 last Friday, has been the story of the season, becoming the first skater to land a quadruple Axel in competition.

Malinin, the reigning world junior champion, won both of his Grand Prix starts and posted the best total score among all fall events, edging world champion Shoma Uno of Japan. Malinin and Uno will go head-to-head for the first time this season at the Final.

Isabeau Levito, a 15-year-old world junior champion, is the youngest American at a Final since Caroline Zhang in 2007. She qualified in fifth place. The favorites are Japan’s Mai Mihara and Kaori Sakamoto and Belgian Loena Hendrickx.

The U.S. also qualified two pairs’ teams — world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier and Emily Chan and Spencer Howe — and two ice dance couples — three-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker.

For the first time, the Final has no Russian skaters. They are banned from international competition due to the war in Ukraine. For the first time in 25 years, there are no Chinese skaters. China’s top pairs’ teams did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Grand Prix Final Broadcast Schedule
All TV coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Thursday Pairs’ Short Program 1:20-2:15 p.m. Peacock
Men’s Short Program 2:35-3:20 p.m. Peacock
Friday Pairs’ Free Skate 11:35 a.m.-12:40 p.m. Peacock
Rhythm Dance 1:50-2:45 p.m. Peacock
Women’s Short Program 3:05-3:50 p.m. Peacock
Saturday Men’s Short Program* 6:30-7:30 a.m. E!
Men’s Free Skate 7:30-8:30 a.m. E!, Peacock
Women’s Short Program* 8:30-9:30 a.m. E!
Free Dance 1:40-2:40 p.m. Peacock
Women’s Free Skate 3-3:55 p.m. Peacock
Sunday Highlights* 4-6 p.m. NBC

*Delayed broadcast.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde sweeps Beaver Creek World Cup races

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Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde held off Swiss Marco Odermatt for a second consecutive day to sweep World Cup races in Beaver Creek, Colorado, this weekend.

Kilde won Sunday’s super-G by two tenths of a second over Odermatt, one day after edging Odermatt by six hundredths. France’s Alexis Pinturault took third as the podium was made up of the last three men to win the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.

This season’s overall figures to be a two-man battle between Kilde, the 2019-20 champion, and Odermatt, the reigning champion, and could come down to March’s World Cup Finals. They’ve combined to win the first five of 38 scheduled races.

The top American Sunday was River Radamus, who finished an impressive 16th given his start number was 57. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle, the Olympic super-G silver medalist, and Travis Ganong, who was third in Beaver Creek last year, both skied out.

The men’s World Cup heads next weekend to Val d’Isere, France, for a giant slalom and slalom.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

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