Evan Bates

Scott Hamilton
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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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Yuzuru Hanyu breaks world record at Four Continents; Chock, Bates win ice dance

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Yuzuru Hanyu skated the highest-scoring short program in history, breaking his own record at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul on Friday.

Hanyu, the two-time Olympic champion, tallied 111.82 points with a quadruple Salchow and a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination. Hanyu reverted to his 2018 Olympic season short program for the first time. He held the previous short program record of 110.53 from November 2018.

“Today’s performance was the most perfect performance I’ve ever done,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union. “I set as a goal a score higher than 110 for myself.”

Hanyu leads China’s Jin Boyang by 15.99 points going into the free skate. American Jason Brown is in third.

Four Continents features top skaters from North America, Asia (but not Russia, which is part of Europe in Olympic sport) and Australia. A TV and live stream schedule is here.

Hanyu and other skaters are preparing for March’s world championships in Montreal. That’s where Hanyu will next face Nathan Chen, who is skipping Four Continents to focus on sophomore studies at Yale. Chen beat Hanyu in their last five head-to-head programs starting with the 2018 Olympic free skate.

Earlier, U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates extended their resurgence, repeating as Four Continents ice dance gold medalists despite a free-dance fall. Chock and Bates, eighth and ninth at their two Olympics, totaled 213.18 to beat Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier by three points.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, the top U.S. couple the previous two seasons, dropped from first after the rhythm dance to third. Donohue erred on a twizzle in the free dance.

Chock and Bates bettered Hubbell and Donohue in all three head-to-heads this season. Chock and Bates rank third in the world going into the world championships, trailing four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France and Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia.

At the European Championships last month, the Russians handed the French their first defeat since the PyeongChang Olympics.

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MORE: U.S. Figure Skating Championships takeaways

10 takeaways from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Here, the NBC Sports figure skating contributors reflect on the standout moments of the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Nathan Chen and Alysa Liu of course come to mind, though there were plenty of other moments to remark upon along the way. 

Women

1. Alysa Liu proved that she could do it again. She validated her insistence that there was no more pressure in successfully defending a title compared to winning her first title. 

Plus, the amusement of seeing the 4-foot-10 14-year-old needing help ascending the top step of the awards podium doesn’t get old either. Mariah Bell and Bradie Tennell helped hoist her for the second year in a row. Liu next competes at world juniors, where she will take on a formidable pair of Russian “K’s”: Kamila Valieva and Ksenia Sinitsyna, both of whom outscored her on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. To win the crown, Liu may need a fully rotated quadruple Lutz, something that eluded her in Greensboro.

2. Speaking of Bell, she comes out of the championships with her already-improving confidence another notch higher after the free skate of her life and her best nationals finish ever, a silver medal. In tears before she even hit her final pose, she deservedly got an overwhelming standing ovation.

When asked how she felt about being the No. 1 senior U.S. woman, she said, “It’s a very special feeling. I haven’t had that before in my career, so that was awesome. The coolest thing about it was how into it the crowd was.” 

Now, let the calculations begin: can Bell and Tennell gain three U.S. women’s spots for next season’s world championships? To do so, the sum of their placements at the 2020 World Figure Skating Championships cannot be greater than 13 (for example, sixth and seventh).

3. Rounding out the memorable moments of the women’s event were the returns of Olympians Karen Chen and Gracie Gold. Chen, the 2017 national champion, missed the entirety of last season with a right foot stress fracture, and now is a freshman at Cornell. She finished fourth, and gained an assignment at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships early next month. With her competitive juices flowing again, Chen told reporters she was considering taking a gap year from college.

Two-time U.S. champion Gold, of course, triumphed simply by qualifying for her first national championships since 2017 after time away from the sport for treatment for depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. After a mediocre short program, Gold did a respectable free skate, and the crowd gave her a standing ovation, an emotional reward that left her with grateful tears. It moved Gold, who finished 12th, to vow she would continue her comeback for at least another season.

Men

4. Nathan Chen’s fourth straight U.S. title puts him in the company of five men since World War II, all of whom won Olympic gold medals, with Brian Boitano (85-88) the most recent. Chen, a Yale sophomore, was the first to do it in the IJS and quadruple jump eras (he went six-for-six in quads in the two programs), and the fourth came after a case of the flu bad enough he could practice only intermittently the first two weeks of January. “I don’t know anybody who could recover and do what he did after that sickness,” coach Rafael Arutunian said of Chen.

5. Tomoki Hiwatashi’s continued improvement: two clean programs with three clean quads for the bronze medal. His showmanship, including Russian split jumps, are to die for. Last season, Hiwatashi finished a surprise fourth at nationals but had disappointing 10th and fifth places in his debut competitions on the senior Grand Prix debut. The 2019 world junior champion has put himself into the mix for a 2022 Olympic team spot — if he can improve his consistency. 

6. Except for that pesky quad, Jason Brown put it all together at nationals for the first time since 2014. If he can execute all the elements as brilliantly as he did in Greensboro, a clean quad might put him in bronze medal contention at the 2020 World Championships, given the consistent inconsistency of all the top men after Chen and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.

7. In the past month, Vincent Zhou turned his life inside out, taking a leave from Brown University to focus on skating after completing the first semester of his freshman year and switching coaches to Lee Barkell and Lori Nichol in Toronto. Despite that upheaval and little intense training, the reigning world bronze medalist and 2019 U.S. silver medalist had two solid performances to finish fourth, strategically limiting his quads to one in each program. Although Zhou had skipped the Grand Prix season, his choice as a world team member over Hiwatashi was totally justified under the selection criteria in use.

Ice dance

8. Madison Chock and Evan Bates made ice dance — and figure skating — history when they became the first U.S. skater, couple or pair team to go five years between national titles since the 1920s. They topped two duos they train with, Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, to win their first title since 2015, also won in Greensboro. Their widely acclaimed slithering “Snake Charmer” free dance likely sets them up to glide to the world championship podium, but another showdown with Hubbell and Donohue awaits at Four Continents.

Pairs

9. Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson had a breakthrough moment in the pairs’ event with one of the most memorable free skates in the last 20 years. Calalang’s joyous disbelief was palpable when she and Johnson got their score (146.01, the highest ever at nationals) for a program that had the crowd out of its seats before it even ended

“In my head, I’m like, ‘We got 119 at Skate Canada. We got 120-something at Warsaw.’ So, I was like, ‘Okay, we did both jumps… maybe 130,” she said, recalling her mental play-by-play. “Then it’s 140. Ohmigod, I’ve never dreamed of getting this score. I didn’t think it was possible.” 

Added Johnson: “No one can take that moment away from us.” 

Especially poignant words as Calalang and Johnson were passed over in favor of Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc for the world championships teams. Calalang and Johnson are slated to participate at Four Continents, where they can continue to build a body of work that will impress U.S. Figure Skating’s International Selection Committee next time around.

10. Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim won their third U.S. pair title in Greensboro, joining such company as John Zimmerman and Kyoko Ina, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, and Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard. The couple skated a clean and memorable short program to “At Last,” including side-by-side triple toe loops. In the free skate, though, Knierim fell on his triple toe and the skaters doubled their planned triple Salchows. Despite their superior triple twist and lifts, in order to crack the top five in the world, Scimeca Knierim and Knierim need to get consistent on their jumps, and the California-based skaters are working with Arutunian to do so.

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U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Full Results | Women’s | Ice dance | Pairs | Men’s | Worlds roster

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.