AP

How to watch U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Leave a comment

Nathan Chen sets out for his third national title, while Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are aiming to defend their title for the first time at the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships in Detroit Jan. 22-27.

It’s the first time Detroit has held the championships in 25 years, when Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by associates of Tonya Harding.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program from Detroit from junior and senior competition. Juniors starts Tuesday with the ladies’ short program, and seniors will begin Thursday with the pairs’ short program.

NBCSN and NBC will also have live coverage of senior competition throughout the weekend.

The national championships will dictate which skaters are assigned late-season competitions, including Four Continents Championships in February and the world championships in March.

Chen, the 2018 world champion, is expected to reign supreme over the men’s field. He will likely be joined on the podium by 2014 Olympian Jason Brown and 2018 Olympian Vincent Zhou.

MORE: Nathan Chen prepared to capture third national title

On the ladies’ side, last year’s champion Bradie Tennell has said this season she wants to improve her artistic side of her skating. She faces challenges in that department from Mariah Bell and 13-year-old prodigy Alysa Liu will also make a run at the podium. With Karen Chen’s and Gracie Gold’s withdrawals, the podium at nationals looks much more unclear.

MORE: Three questions with Bradie Tennell

Two-time pairs national championships Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim changed coaches after a tumultuous season thus far, and will have to fend off 2016 champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea. Also in the field are Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc. Cain recently recovered from a concussion after a scary fall in competition.

MORE: Three questions with the Knierims

The U.S.’ top three dance teams train together in Montreal: Hubbell and Donohue, 2015 U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Grand Prix Japan winners Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker.

Hubbell and Donohue most recently won the Grand Prix Final and should have no problem topping the podium in Detroit. It will be the season debut for Chock and Bates, who missed the entire autumn season with Chock’s injury. Hawayek and Baker have never been higher than fourth on the U.S. podium, but this is expected to be their breakthrough year – if it isn’t already.

MORE: Three questions with Chock, Bates 

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

 

U.S. Championships broadcast schedule (all times Eastern)

Tuesday

Junior ladies’ short program: 5:30 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Junior men’s short program: 7:30 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

 

Wednesday

Junior pairs’ short program: 10:30 a.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Junior rhythm dance: 2:45 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Junior ladies’ free skate: 5:30 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Junior men’s free skate: 7:30 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

 

Thursday

Junior pairs’ free skate: 11:45 a.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Pairs’ short program: 4:30 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 5 p.m. on NBCSN | STREAM LINK

Ladies’ short program: 8 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 9 p.m. on NBCSN | STREAM LINK

 

Friday

Junior free dance: 12 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Rhythm dance: 3:45 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 4 p.m. on NBCSN | STREAM LINK

Ladies’ free skate: 7:35 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 8 p.m. on NBC | STREAM LINK

 

Saturday

Pairs’ free skate (groups 1-3): 9:30 a.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Men’s short program (groups 1-2): 11:10 a.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Men’s short program (groups 3-4): 1:30 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

Pairs’ free skate (groups 4-5): 3 p.m. (GOLD) | STREAM LINK

NBC will have coverage of the pairs’ free skate and men’s short program beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Free dance: 6:15 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 7 p.m. on NBCSN | STREAM LINK

 

Sunday

Men’s free skate: 2:10 p.m. (GOLD), begins at 3:30 p.m. on NBC | STREAM LINK

 

Saturday, Feb. 16

Skating Spectacular (gala exhibition): 2:30 p.m. on NBC

Three questions with Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue before U.S. Championships

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue broke through the U.S. ice dance field to win their first national title in 2018. This year, they come back to defend – but their resumes are so much stronger this year.

The Montreal-based team most recently won the Grand Prix Final after sweeping both their assignments earlier in the fall.

At their media teleconference ahead of nationals, they spoke candidly with reporters about how they’re preparing for the competition (“jovially,” said Donohue) and the purpose behind the tweaks to their programs audiences will see in Detroit.

The rhythm dance is Jan. 25 and the free dance is Jan. 26.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Their families are all-in on building the competitive atmosphere surrounding nationals.

Madison Hubbell: My extended family has very rarely been able to see me skate live. They were able to come to Stars on Ice at the same arena, Little Ceasars Arena, this past spring. I think my uncle, mainly, uncle and my cousin, are just obsessive sports fans. For them, to go to the Little Ceasars Arena, is like, it calls for a celebration. ‘You’re gonna skate in this big arena, and we’re gonna do it the way these other sports do it.’ They called the arena, everybody’s confirmed that it is possible for them to do a tailgate. They are arranging it and they’re also arranging it with Kaitlin Hawayek’s parents and Evan Bates’ parents.

Zach Donohue: It’s gonna be lit!

MH: It’s gonna be all of our families. We’re extending the invitation of course to the families of the other athletes who will be around that day. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of really excited family and friends coming into the arena with a lot of energy. They’ve never done this before. Unfortunately, we’ll be skating so it’s not like we can join, but it sounds really fun.

ZD: I’m just concerned that it’s gonna happen like, too nicely, and then I’ll miss one of the events. Is that acceptable? How do we feel?

MH: Maybe they’ll be like, ‘man, I’m really sorry guys, we missed you actually. We were having too much fun outside.’

ZD: ‘Sorry about that!’

2. Momentum might build up their confidence, but they still take competitions one step at a time.

ZD: I don’t know if momentum is the right word. It’s always nice to be able to look back and see your hard work come to bear fruit. I think for sure gives you a boost of confidence in your abilities. Honestly, if anything, it just motivates us for more. Once you’ve had a taste of achieving your dream, it’s kind of hard to shy away from that. I would say that it’s definitely motivating.

MH: We take it competition by competition. I agree there’s a momentum based on knowing that our equation is working, the things that we’re doing here in training are working to continue improving what we’re capable of. But it isn’t a momentum because it’s a different competition with a different panel [of judges] and different competitors every time. We’re not taking it as winning the last four competitions made us unbeatable at nationals. It’s a completely different story. But at least we know going home from Vancouver [the Grand Prix Final] that the thing we were doing in training were working. We didn’t have to change the formula.

3. Making changes to their programs helps them tell the story better, especially in their free dance.

ZD: We changed the music just to mess with you – just kidding!

MH: We don’t consider it too major, but we changed the order of elements. The one-foot section will go earlier in the program because we felt like with the story, it made more sense to finish the dance spin at the end of the program where it’s a very intimate moment between the two of us. We can be very close compared to the one-foot section where we’re separated. It felt a little incomplete to tell the story of the last moments where you’re with the love of your life and you have to let go of them. We changed those elements around in order to make more sense within the story.

MORE: Nathan Chen prepared to capture third national title

As a reminder, you can watch the U.S. Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue starting new holiday traditions

AP
Leave a comment

If anyone has reason to celebrate during this holiday season, it’s defending U.S. ice dance champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. They’ve had an outstanding autumn, which they kicked off by winning their fourth U.S. International Figure Skating Classic and then cemented their place in the ice dancing hierarchy with gold medals at Skate America, Skate Canada and the Grand Prix Final.

This year, they’ll be celebrating Christmas separately. Hubbell is heading home to Sylvania, Ohio with fiancé Adrian Diaz and Donohue is going to England with girlfriend Olivia Smart.

They’re training at the Gadbois Centre in Montreal until Dec. 21, so for now, they’ve brought the holidays into their training base. Hubbell has put up Christmas decorations in her apartment, including a tree, stockings and candles that smell like pine trees.

Donohue decorated both Smart’s apartment and his, with Hubbell’s assistance on the latter. He hosted a holiday get together for the skaters heading off to other destinations. He admitted that he just began his Christmas gift shopping on Saturday.

While it’s pretty cold and snowy in Montreal this time of year, Hubbell and Donohue said the Christmas spirit is evident. “Everybody is out shopping,” said Hubbell, who hoped to check out a Christmas market near where she lives. She’s been following it on Instagram and said it looks lovely.

This is Hubbell’s first Christmas visit home with Diaz. It will be his first American Christmas. Diaz has always lived in a city in an apartment, so the Hubbells’ decorated house will be a big change for him. Also, Hubbell’s mother, Susan, is very detailed in making Christmas stockings.

“My mom has always been like ‘Stockings come first,’” said Hubbell. “She makes these beautiful heirloom stockings and embroiders our names on them. Even this year, we’re not doing any big presents, but we fill our stockings with small gifts, which is really fun. It’s a bunch of little tokens that reminds you of that person. It will be his first year waking up to a stocking that is actually made by my mom, which is really special because she puts so much time into it.”

The house will only be quiet for a short time on Christmas morning. Soon, Hubbell’s older brother, Zach, his wife, Nicole, and four young sons will arrive.

“That’s a lot of energy,” said Hubbell. “You get to wake up with a coffee before the chaos ensues.”

Hubbell’s other brother, Keiffer, her former ice dance partner, will be coming from Michigan.

Smart’s family lives outside Sheffield, England. This will be their first holiday in a new home. They celebrate not only Christmas, but also Boxing Day, which is Dec. 26. Boxing day originated in the United Kingdom, with the origin of the name referring to a Christmas box, containing money or presents, being bestowed to servants or workers. In recent times, it has other interpretations.

“Everyone gets up at 8 a.m. at the latest, and we’re going to go to a cool village that’s got tons of sales on for shopping,” said Donohue. “The first year we started dating we went to the UK and had a huge party with all of her family. Christmas Eve is the bigger celebration.”

Christmas Day will begin with just immediate family in the morning and then Smart’s grandparents will come over. Later, they’ll connect with other relatives.

Following Christmas, Hubbell and Donohue head to Lake Placid, NY for a Stars on Ice performance on Dec. 30. New Year’s celebrations will be fairly low-key, but still festive.

Diaz is from Spain, where they not only celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, but also Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6. Hubbell never placed a priority on New Year’s Eve, often falling asleep before the clock struck 12, but celebrating the New Year is a big deal to Diaz.

“It is so important to end it with family and turn over the new year,” said Hubbell. “One of their big traditions is in the last 12 seconds of the year you have to eat 12 grapes.”

Training begins again the first week of January to prepare for the U.S. Championships. They’re excited that the competition will be in Detroit, where they lived and trained for many years. Many of Hubbell’s relatives will be present and they are even planning a tailgating party.

“They’re going to pretend figure skating is like football,” she said.

As a reminder, you can watch the U.S. Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Johnny Weir among Google’s trending athletes of 2018