Some former Olympians and newcomers will try to get the team involved in the Beijing Olympics.
Former Olympians and more recent blood will compete this week at the US Figure Skating Championships for a chance to make it to the Winter Olympics. It starts Tuesday with the juniors and ends Thursday through Sunday with the seniors skating for a stroke to represent the United States in Beijing.
A committee ultimately determines who will go to the Games, but if a skater who has been a strong competitor on the international stage ends up at the top or near the top of the championship standings, that makes the decision easier.
Here’s when and where to watch the US Figure Skating Championships on TV. The competitions are broadcast live nationwide, with the exception of the women’s Friday night free skate, which will be delayed in some time zones. All competitions are also broadcast live on Peacock.
- Thursday, 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT: Short program in pairs (US network)
- Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT: Women’s Short Program (USA Network)
- Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT: Rhythmic Ice Dance (USA Network)
- Friday, 8 p.m. ET / PT: Women’s Free Skate (NBC)
- Saturday, 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT: Men’s Short Program (NBC)
- Saturday, 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT: Ice dance, free dance and pair free skating (USA Network)
- Sunday, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT: Men’s Free Skate (NBC)
The full United States Olympic figure skating team will be announced by January 10, but the athletes could be named throughout the weekend.
The ones to watch at the U.S. figure skating championships
The top three analysts on NBC’s coverage of figure skating – Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski, silver medalist Tanith White and three-time US champion Johnny Weir – recently explained that stress at nationals can be so excruciating. that whatever the Olympics cause.
As the American skaters, led by three-time world champion Nathan Chen, and exceptional ice dance pairs Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates, prepare for the national championships in the first week of January in Nashville, they need to be aware of the pressure ahead.
“When you represent one of the great nations in skating, sometimes the national championships seem more important than the Olympics,” Weir says. “Because you face very strong skaters for one of the three places. In terms of stress, the national championships in an Olympic year seemed to me like mini-Olympics. “
Adds Lipinski, the 1998 winner at the Nagano Games:
“The game plan is always different during an Olympic year. There are many strategies used to plan a skater’s Olympic quad. You’re hoping to peak in the last season as you head into the games. The other seasons are used for preparation and experimentation. with new elements or a new style, all in the hope that you will be the best version of yourself for the big event.
“If you’re a team favorite, the Nationals are the place to get that final boost of confidence ahead of the Olympics. If you are a hope, this is a very intense event where you have to put everything on the line; for many it is their last chance to realize their Olympic dream. The anticipation and anxiety of a national championship in an Olympic year is always at a palpable level. “
Maybe not so much for Chen or the two ice dance duos who are among the world’s elite. But a strong performance in Nashville would be a boost ahead of a month of preparation, training and strategy for Beijing.
Hubbell / Donohue, who narrowly missed the podium at the 2018 Olympics, and Chock / Bates have been fixtures on the international scene for years. White, skating as Tanith Belbin with Ben Agosto during his competitive career, believes they will still have to wrestle their nerves.
“Physically my experience is that the preparations for the national championships are mostly the same during an Olympic season,” she says, “but mentally it can be a much bigger challenge than the non-Olympic years. The pressure to not only do their best and rank well, but also to qualify for the Olympic team is immense, and there is no avoiding this tension during a championship weekend. In practice, behind the scenes, you can’t get away from it, so you need to make sure you come to the nationals equipped with the experienced mental tools to help you deal with this stress, rather than trying to avoid it.
The United States has no other likely contenders for the medals, but the mere possibility of making it to the Olympics is a tremendous incentive at a national championship. And there are several other Americans with Olympic experience: Karen Chen among the women; Vincent Zhou and Jason Brown among the men; Alexa Knierim, who attended Pyeongchang as a couple with her husband Chris and now partner with Brandon Frazier.
Weir loves the look of the male field.
“The three men who have proven themselves nationally and internationally, Chen, Zhou and Brown, in my opinion, are the top three skaters to represent the United States at the Olympics,” he said. “They bring different strengths, qualities and personality to the event, and I think Chen and Zhou are definitely in the medal race. I would be shocked if anyone besides these three were on the team.
Another former Olympian, two-time American champion Bradie Tennell, has announced that she will not compete in the women’s competition. She suffers from a nagging foot injury.
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Lipinski considers the women’s event to be relatively open.
“I think Alysa (Liu) is on the right track to win another title as her fairly consistent triple axel and very consistent triples give her the advantage,” she said of the two-time US champion. 16-year-old who has only done this season. was old enough to compete at the senior level. “The next two places will make for an exciting competition. There are advantages and disadvantages for all contenders.
“Mariah Bell has been waiting for this moment for so long. She has finally found consistency and her artistry and passion gives her the edge among a few of her younger teammates. But her triple-triple has been inconsistent and she will need of this element – a good at that – to the national championships.
“Karen Chen has experience and work by her side. We saw how it helped him make the world team last year. Karen is in a league of their own when it comes to the art and component partition, so with a solid skate, making the team is very likely.
“Amber Glenn has the secret weapon of the Triple Axis, but it didn’t show up in competition as she had hoped. But if she manages that triple axis and delivers a clean skate, it might be difficult to let her out of a team again this year.