LADIES TAKE THE ICE IN HOPES OF MAKING THE OLYMPIC TEAM AS NBC SPORTS AND UNIVERSAL SPORTS LIVE COVERAGE OF THE AT&T U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS CONTINUES
Expanded Live Coverage of the Ladies Free Skate Begins Tonight on Universal Sports
NEW YORK – January 21, 2010 – The remainder of U.S. Olympic figure skating team (ladies and dance) will be determined this weekend as NBC Sports and Universal Sports present live coverage of the AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships, including live primetime coverage of the Ladies Free Skate on Saturday on NBC and expanded live coverage of the Ladies Short Program tonight on Universal Sports.
Coverage on NBC Sports includes the Ladies Free Skate live on Saturday in primetime (9-11 p.m. ET/PT). Earlier in the day, NBC Sports will have live coverage of the Free Dance and taped coverage of the Ladies Short Program (3-6 p.m. ET). Universal Sports’ coverage begins tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET with live coverage of the Ladies short program. *Coverage on Universal Sports is expanded to four hours tonight from the two hours that was announced previously.
The U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held annually since 1914, is the nation’s most prestigious figure skating event, and this year’s event will go a long way in determining the U.S. team for Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, which begin Feb. 12 on NBC.
Coverage this weekend will also include the official announcement of the U.S. Olympic team on Sunday in primetime (9-11 p.m. ET/PT) along with the Exhibition of Champions and a full recap of the competition on Sunday (4-6 p.m. ET).
Event host Bob Costas and legendary figure skater and announcer Dick Button host NBC Sports’ coverage from Spokane Arena in Spokane, Wash. NBC’s Olympic figure skating broadcast team of Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Scott Hamilton (analyst), Sandra Bezic (analyst), and Andrea Joyce (reporter) will call the action for both NBC and Universal Sports.
COVERAGE ON NBC SPORTS:
– Saturday, 3-6 p.m. ET – Free Dance (Live), Ladies Short
– Saturday, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT – Ladies Free Skate (Live)
– Sunday, 4-6 p.m. ET – Recap of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships
– Sunday, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT – Exhibition of Champions and announcement of U.S. Olympic Team
UNIVERSAL SPORTS COVERAGE:
– Tonight, 10:30 p.m. – 2:30 a.m. ET – Ladies Short (Live)
– Tomorrow, 11 p.m. – 12 midnight ET – Original Dance (Live)
– Saturday, 11 p.m. – 2 a.m. ET – Ladies Short and Free Dance (Re-Air of NBC Show)
– Sunday, 2-4 a.m. ET (late Saturday night) – Ladies Free Skate (Re-Air NBC Show)
LADIES: Two Olympic berths are at stake. 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen makes her much anticipated return to competitive skating in Spokane. She made her last competitive appearance at the 2006 World Championships in Calgary. Competing against Cohen for a berth on the U.S. Olympic team is two-time defending U.S. silver medalist Rachel Flatt. Flatt, the 2008 World Junior Champion, and Japan’s Miki Ando are the only ladies who have beaten world champion Kim Yu-Na in a competition segment this season (no one has beaten her overall). Flatt defeated Kim in the free skate at Skate America in November. Other competition for the Olympic spots will come from defending U.S. champion Alissa Czisny, defending U.S. bronze medalist Caroline Zhang and 2008 U.S. champion Mirai Nagasu. 2007 U.S. silver medalist Emily Hughes makes her first appearance at nationals since 2007; she missed the past two years due to injuries. She is on a one-year break from Harvard, hoping to qualify for her second Olympics. Hughes is the younger sister of 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes.
NBC’S SCOTT HAMILTON BREAKS DOWN LADIES COMPETITION AFTER WATCHING PRACTICE YESTERDAY:
On Sasha Cohen: “She looks great, like no time has passed. Some things actually look better than they did four years ago. A lot of the people that she’s competing against have had four years to kind of up their game and get used to competing under this system, and one thing that might hold her back is the fact that she hasn’t been on competitive ice, but she looked really comfortable. She was very happy and practiced well. She’ll be in the mix throughout.”
On the Ladies Competition: “It’s going to be an exciting competition and there is no sure thing. There are a lot of women this year that can rise to the challenge and with two good performances could accumulate enough points to win this thing. You look at Alissa (Czisny), the defending champion, who’s skating very well here. You can look at Rachael Flatt who’s turned in performance after performance and seems to be consistent enough to skate well under that kind of pressure. Then you have to look at Ashley Wagner who has been coming on strong and then the champion of two years ago, Mirai Nagasu, who looks really good, really calm. The U.S. has only two spots on the women’s team and we have more ladies than that poised and in shape and ready to try to claim one of those two spots.”
DANCE: Three Olympic berths are at stake. Five-time U.S. champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto compete for their sixth U.S. title; a win would give them the record for most U.S. dance titles. Belbin and Agosto are already the most successful U.S. dance team in history, with four world medals, three Four Continents titles, and an Olympic silver medal from Torino. Their main competition will come from 2009 U.S. champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who are fresh off a win at the Grand Prix Final, the first-ever by an American team. Davis & White have never defeated Belbin & Agosto in competition. They won at Nationals last year when Belbin and Agosto did not compete. Also competing for one of the three Olympic spots are are two-time U.S. bronze medalists Kimberly Navarro & Brent Bommentre, defending U.S. silver medalists Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates and 2009 world junior champions Madison Chock & Greg Zuerlein, who will make their senior debut in Spokane.
HAMILTON ON DANCE COMPETITION: “The U.S. has never been this well represented in a dance event going into Olympics as we are this year. Tanith and Ben and Meryl and Charlie are two of the best dance teams in the world, so they’re going at it nose to nose competing for the National Title because that would give them momentum into the Olympics. It’s going to be interesting to see who wins there because Charlie and Meryl have been on the rise like crazy, but Tanith and Ben won a medal last Olympics and they’ve been dominant on the international stage.”
NBC SPORTS AND U.S. FIGURE SKATING ASSOCIATION: NBC Sports and U.S. Figure Skating are in the third year of a multiyear partnership under which NBC will broadcast live high-definition coverage of the AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships, including Saturday night primetime coverage of the ladies free skate, as well as Skate America. The deal between NBC and the USFSA was extended last year and continues through the 2014 U.S. Championships