13 Hours of LIVE Coverage of All Competition on NBC Sports and Universal Sports
NEW YORK – January 14, 2010 – The U.S. Olympic figure skating team will be determined over the next two weekends as NBC Sports and Universal Sports present an unprecedented 13 hours of live coverage of the AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships, including all four disciplines live from Spokane Wash. Coverage begins on NBC Sports this Saturday (4:30-6 p.m. ET) with live coverage of the Pairs Free Skate and continues Sunday (4:30-6 p.m. ET) with live coverage of the Men’s Free Skate. The live ladies and dance competition will take place next weekend (see schedule below). Universal Sports’ coverage begins Friday night (early Saturday) 12:30 a.m. ET with live coverage of the Men’s and Pairs’ short programs.
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 of this year’s championships will include 13 hours of live competition in the ladies and men’s singles, pairs and ice dancing, with the ladies competition airing next Saturday live in primetime and the announcement of the U.S. Olympic team next Sunday in primetime. Universal Sports will present live coverage of the short programs and will re-air the NBC Sports broadcasts.
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 from the Spokane Arena in Spokane Wash. Event host Bob Costas and legendary skater and announcer Dick Button join the team for the second weekend of coverage.
COVERAGE ON NBC SPORTS:
– This Saturday, 4:30-6 p.m. ET – Pairs Free Skate (Live), Pairs Short, Men’s Short
– This Sunday, 4:30-6 p.m. ET – Men’s Free Skate (Live)
– Saturday, Jan. 23, 3-6 p.m. ET – Free Dance (Live), Ladies Short
– Saturday, Jan. 23, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT – Ladies Free Skate (Live)
– Sunday, Jan. 24, 4-6 p.m. ET – Recap of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships
– Sunday, Jan. 24, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT – Exhibition of Champions and announcement of U.S. Olympic Team
UNIVERSAL SPORTS COVERAGE: Universal Sports, available in 57 million homes, will present five hours of live, original coverage and eight hours of re-airs of the NBC Sports shows starting this Friday. Coverage details below:
– This Saturday, 12:30-2:30 a.m. ET (late Friday night) – Men’s Short and Pairs Short (Live)
– This Saturday, 6:30-8 p.m. ET – Pairs Free Skate, Pairs Short, Men’s Short (Re-Air of NBC Show)
– This Sunday, 6:30-8 p.m. ET – Men’s Free Skate (Re-Air of NBC Show)
– Friday, Jan. 22, 12:30-2:30 a.m. ET (late Thursday night) – Ladies Short (Live)
– Friday, Jan. 22, 11 p.m. – 12 midnight ET – Original Dance (Live)
– Saturday, Jan. 23, 11 p.m. – 2 a.m. ET – Ladies Short and Free Dance (Re-Air of NBC Show)
– Sunday, Jan. 24, 2-4 a.m. ET (late Saturday night) – Ladies Free (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.
HAMILTON ON THE LADIES COMPETITION: “Alissa Czisny is coming back to defend her title and when she’s on, she’s wonderful, but she’s going to have to turn in performances like she did last year without major errors in order to be in the top two or three. Rachael Flatt has been very strong and recently beat Kim Yu-Na in the free skate at Skate America. Then there is Sasha Cohen who is coming back after four years of being away. She’s a national champion and an Olympic silver medalist so you have to put her in as a factor, but she hasn’t skated competitively in four years so that’s a tall order. There’s a lot of pressure. Ashley Wagner’s been really good this year and Mirai Nagasu, who won the title a couple years ago, kind of melted under the spotlight of being the National Champion, but now seems to be coming on strong again. And I’m sure the press will love to talk about Emily Hughes, but I don’t really know if she’s going to be competitive. Sasha, Alissa, Rachael, Mirai, and Ashley would be my five going for the two spots.”
MEN’S: Three Olympic berths are at stake and three U.S. champions in the field are the favorites to claim them. 2009 world champion Evan Lysacek is not only the favorite in Spokane but also a contender for gold in Vancouver. Challenging Lysacek will be defending U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, who unseated Lysacek at last year’s Nationals in Cleveland; three-time U.S. champion Johnny Weir, who won bronze at the Grand Prix Final in December; two-time world junior champion Adam Rippon, who won his first Grand Prix medal in Paris in October; 2009 U.S. silver medalist Brandon Mroz; and 2007 U.S. silver medalist Ryan Bradley.
HAMILTON ON THE MEN’S COMPETITION: “The three men with the most experience and have the most international success would be Evan Lysacek, Jeremy Abbott, and Johnny Weir. Those would be the three that most people would expect to be on the Olympics team, but with this scoring system and the nature of how it all works, you never know. Ryan Bradley was on the podium at the Nationals in Spokane a couple of years ago so he’s going back to a very familiar rink where he’s had success, don’t count him out. You’ve got a young skater, Adam Rippon, who’s coming on strong and we can’t forget Brandon Mroz, who was second last year at the National Championships. So the men’s event is going to be very exciting.”
PAIRS: Two spots on the U.S. Olympic Team are at stake. Two-time and reigning champs Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker are the frontrunners, looking for their third consecutive senior title. Competing against them will be two-time U.S. champions Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, 2007 U.S. champions Brooke Castile & Ben Okolski and last year’s surprise silver medalists, Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett.
HAMILTON ON THE PAIRS COMPETITION: “Denney and Barrett and McLaughlin and Brubaker would probably be the favorites going into this competition. The two-time defending champions, Brubaker and McLaughlin, had a coaching switch this year so it’ll be real interesting to see how that’s changed not only their look but their technical consistency because that’s something that was an issue last year. I expect great things from them. You’ve also got Inoue and Baldwin who’ve won this championship a couple times and have been top five in the world. They could mount a comeback as well and get on the podium because they’ve got all the experience and they’re much older and a seasoned pair team. So a lot of things can happen in the pairs but I’d say the two to look for would be Denney and Barrett and McLaughlin and Brubaker.”
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