Ilia Malinin can complete the U.S. puzzle at Grand Prix Finland; TV, live stream schedule

Ilia Malinin
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American Ilia Malinin opened the Grand Prix figure skating season five weeks ago by becoming the youngest man to win Skate America, and doing it in style with a quadruple Axel. It remains the highlight performance of the fall going into the last Grand Prix event in Finland this week.

Malinin, the 17-year-old world junior champion, remains the top-ranked man this year by his best total score from Skate America.

He will qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final, which takes the top six per discipline from the six-event Grand Prix Series, by finishing in the top four (and possibly even fifth) in Finland. That would set up a showdown at the Final with world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who ranks second in the world this season (just .61 of a point behind Malinin).

Malinin is part of a larger American story within figure skating this season. In the absence of skaters from Russia (banned for the war in Ukraine) and China (top athletes didn’t enter the Grand Prix Series), the U.S. is on the verge of qualifying into the Grand Prix Final in all four disciplines for the first time in 15 years.

Isabeau Levito, also a reigning world junior champion, plus the pairs’ teams of Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier and Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe and ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates already clinched spots.

Another American ice dance couple, Skate America silver medalists Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, will join them with a podium this week. Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, the world’s top-ranked ice dance couple, are also in the Finland field.

The women’s event may be the most intriguing with two who won Grand Prix events already this fall (world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium and Japan’s Mai Mihara) and two with Grand Prix Final experience on the comeback trail (2018 Grand Prix Final winner Rika Kihira of Japan and two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell).

Grand Prix Finland Broadcast Schedule

Day Time (ET) Event Platform
Friday 6 a.m. Pairs’ Short Peacock
7:50 a.m. Women’s Short Peacock
10:45 a.m. Men’s Short Peacock
12:40 p.m. Rhythm Dance Peacock
Saturday 5:45 a.m. Pairs’ Free Peacock
7:20 a.m. Women’s Free Peacock
11:15 a.m. Men’s Free Peacock
1:25 p.m. Free Dance Peacock
Sunday 3:30 p.m. Highlights NBC | 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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