Ashley Cain

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Olympic figure skaters from 1980 plan reunion in Lake Placid

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Members of figure skating’s “Dream Team” plan to return to the site of the 1980 Olympics for a reunion and celebration in Lake Placid, New York next Tuesday.

Scott Hamilton, the flag bearer at the 1980 Opening Ceremony, will be joined by silver medalist Linda Fratianne, bronze medalist Charles Tickner, Tai Babilonia, David Santee, Sandy Lenz Jackson, Caitlin Carruthers Conrad, Sheryl Franks and Michael Botticelli, Lisa-Marie Allen and Stacey Smith and John Summers.

Paul Wylie, a 1992 Olympic silver medalist, will moderate a press conference featuring the skaters.

“Usually everything is about the hockey team, but now this is about figure skating,” Wylie told NBC Sports. “It will be a really cool moment.”

The community is invited to take to the ice on Tuesday for a “Frozen 5K” skate-a-thon and signature fundraiser of the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation. Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist and cancer survivor, will also lace up his skates.

Lake Placid anniversary

Reigning U.S. ice dance champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates, 2019 U.S. pairs’ champions Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc and 2011 U.S. champion Ryan Bradley will perform in a gala honoring the 1980 Olympic team.

On Thursday, the Olympic Museum will host the kickoff event with two new exhibits: “Totally 80 – Exploring the Look of the Games” and “Foretelling the Future – The National Weather Service at the Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games.”

Other events include a 1980s trivia night, athlete forums, meet-and-greet opportunities with 1994 Olympic speed skating champion Dan Jansen and a screening of Disney’s “Miracle.”

Lake Placid also hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1932, but it is the 1980 iteration that lives prominently in the minds of Americans.

The U.S. men’s hockey team’s defeat of the Russians in the “Miracle on Ice” and Eric Heiden’s five speed skating gold medals are among the memorable highlights.

MORE: 10 takeaways from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season 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.

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With four former champions in the mix, who can claim U.S. Championships pairs’ title?

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There have been four different U.S. pairs’ champions in the past four years. All four of those teams are in the field at this week’s U.S. Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina. With that in mind, who could get the nod to compete at the world championships in March?

The U.S. has two spots to fill, thanks to the efforts of Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, who finished ninth at last year’s worlds.

Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier had the best fall of any U.S. pair, winning two bronze medals on the Grand Prix Series. Denney and Frazier finished with silver medals at last year’s national championships, too. The team has previous experience at the world championships (2015: 12th; 2017: 20th).

Cain-Gribble and LeDuc won the national title last year after a season that was nearly sidelined by Cain-Gribble’s concussion in December 2018. As the solo U.S. representatives at the world championships, they succeeded in earning back two world berths for 2020.

This season, they won two B-level competitions and finished fourth and fifth at their Grand Prix assignments. LeDuc said last week that despite their win at Golden Spin in December, “there was a little bit of room for improvement, which is exactly what we want from a competition going into nationals.”

“We feel like we’ve improved a lot as far as what we’re able to take on mentally because we know that this is going to be an intense week,” Cain-Gribble said. “We’re prepared for that. We’ve never had to do this before, where we’re coming in and we’re already the reigning champions. We’ve never come in with that title before. We’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people about it and what that feeling is, but overall their main thing was, ‘Be prepared. Prepare yourself beyond what you can even imagine. When you get there, just go on autopilot and do your thing.’”

NATIONALS PREVIEWS: Nathan Chen | Alysa Liu | Vincent Zhou | Pairs | TV Schedule

PyeongChang Olympic team event bronze medalists Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim haven’t been in top form since the Games. Later in 2018, they split from short-lived coach Aljona Savchenko in Germany and moved to California.

They finished an all-time low of seventh at last year’s nationals and were not assigned to any events later in the season. In their off-season, Chris underwent wrist surgery. The couple also added Rafael Arutunian to their coaching team to address their jumping abilities. Their season consisted of a silver medal at a B-level competition, followed by two Grand Prix assignments where they finished fourth and seventh.

“We feel that many people probably have kind of written us off, because we’re an old married couple and we’re kind of labeled ‘can’t get it together,’” Scimeca Knierim said after finishing fourth at Skate Canada this fall. “That’s almost an advantage, because I feel like for so long, we were considered the front-runners. I still believe we are. We’re trying to show we can get it together.”

The last time the Knierims competed at a nationals in Greensboro, in 2015, they won the first of their two titles. That year, they notched their highest placement (seventh) across five total trips to the world championships.

Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea won their national title in 2016 and were also sent on their only trip to the world championships where they finished 13th. In 2017, Kayne underwent knee surgery, but they returned to the national podium in 2018 and won silver. Last year, they finished fourth after a disastrous free skate.

This season, they collected a silver medals and a fourth place finish at two B-level competitions as well as a pair of sixth-place finishes on the Grand Prix.

MORE: Canadian ice dancers overcome wardrobe malfunction at nationals

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season 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.

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Ashley Cain recovering after falling on her head at figure skating event

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U.S. pairs figure skater Ashley Cain is recovering after falling on the top of her head at a competition in Croatia on Friday night.

“I got checked out at the hospital, and I am going to continue my recovery back home,” she said, according to U.S. Figure Skating.

Cain came down awkwardly from a lift above partner Timothy LeDuc, who was spinning while supporting her above his body with his right hand.

Cain dropped through LeDuc’s arms and down to the ice, landing on the top of her head. LeDuc then fell on top of Cain. She unfurled and, after a few seconds, got back on her feet with some help from LeDuc. The video with sensitive content is here.

They resumed the last 45 seconds of their free skate, concluding with a forward inside death spiral. Officials from the event have not replied to an emailed request for comment on why they were allowed to continue skating.

Off the ice three minutes later, Cain raised a thumb and held a peace sign while a man held a bag of ice to the back of her head. She was wearing a skin-colored neck covering.

Cain and LeDuc finished fourth at last season’s U.S. Championships and earned a bronze medal at Skate America in October.

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