American figure skaters fight for trip to Sochi; NBC schedules live TV coverage Sat, Sun

Gracie Gold hopes to win her way to Sochi this weekend
Gracie Gold hopes to win her way to Sochi this weekend
Gracie Gold hopes to win her way to Sochi this weekend

SAN DIEGO, January 10, 2014The last big step for Americas in getting to Sochi to compete for an Olympic medal in figure skating takes place this week at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the TD Garden in Boston.

NBC Sports offers live primetime coverage of the competition this weekend, four weeks before the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Live coverage begins Saturday, January 11 at 3 p.m. ET and continues in primetime at 8 p.m. ET. Sunday, January 12 has live coverage beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

NBC’s coverage includes pairs’, ice dance, ladies’ and men’s free skate, including the performance of 2010 Vancouver Olympic silver medalists and two-time world ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who are competing for a record sixth national title.

The U.S. Championships serve as the final qualifying competition before U.S. Figure Skating nominates the 2014 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team. Team USA will send three ladies, two men, two pairs teams and three ice dance teams to the Sochi Games.

Getting on the podium at the U.S. nationals isn’t an absolute guarantee who will be selected to represent the U.S. in Sochi, but it’s critically important for skaters to make a good showing and demonstrate to U.S. Figure Skating officials they are ready and able to perform at their best and given the U.S. the best chance of bringing home some Olympic hardware.

The ladies’ field includes two-time reigning U.S. champion Ashley Wagner, 2013 U.S. silver medalist Gracie Gold, 2013 U.S. bronze medalist Agnes Zawadzki and two-time U.S. champion, 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, plus Christina Gao.

The men’s competition is wide open. Fighting for the two spots are reigning U.S. champion Max Aaron, three-time U.S. champion and 2010 Olympian Jeremy Abbott, 2012 U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon, and 2013 U.S. bronze medalist Ross Miner, a Boston native dedicating his season to the Boston Marathon victims and survivors.

Watch for rising star Jason Brown, who may be the surprise of the American men. The 18-year-old former junior medal winner enjoyed a strong Grand Prix season with a bronze medal in Paris in November. He skates a crowd-pleasing routine to “Riverdance” and his experience will go a long way helping him make a good showing in Boston. One of his big fans: talk show host Arsenio Hall. Brown’s mother Maria was Hall’s executive producer of his original talk show and Hall has known Jason since he was an infant.

Olympic 2010 gold medalist Evan Lycacek hoped to compete for the chance to go to a second Olympic Winter Games representing the U.S., but he withdrew due to injury.

In pairs, 2013 U.S. champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir and 2012 U.S. champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin will fight for the chance to skate in Sochi. The ice dance field represents the best chance for the U.S. to bring home an Olympic figure skating medal. Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the reigning world champions and Olympic silver medalists. They haven’t lost in two years and have set scoring records. They are nearly a lock with little standing in their way between them and the top step of the podium.

Competing for the other two spots are the sibling team of Alex and Maia Shibutani, who train alongside Davis and White; and Madison Chock and Evan Bates.

NBC’s Coverage of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships (all times ET, subject to change):

Sat., Jan. 11, 3 p.m.: Live Pairs’ Free Skate

Sat., Jan. 11, 8 p.m.: Live Ladies’ Free Skate

Sun., Jan. 12, 3 p.m.: Live Men’s Free Skate

Sat., Jan. 18, 4 p.m. Smucker’s Skating Spectacular featuring the champions and special performances

NBC Sports Live Extra, will stream NBC’s coverage of U.S. Figure Skating Championships competition for tablet and mobile applications. For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She writes on professional cycling and covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world.  Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Donne Tempo when quoting from or linking to this story.

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