Tag: figure skating

Ashley Wagner: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Ashley Wagner of the United States competes in the Figure Skating Ladies’ Short Program during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. (Getty)

Three-time U.S. National Champion Ashley Wagner is one of the oldest figure skaters contending for a spot on the 2018 Winter Olympic team.

“I think that this is a very tough sport to be older than 17, in all honesty,” Wagner, 25, told the Los Angeles Times. “I think it’s a youth-obsessed culture within skating and it’s because we have kind of let it become that. And I don’t think that there is enough importance placed on maturity on the ice.”

Wagner was 24 when she won a silver medal at the figure skating world championships in 2016, ending a decade-long medal drought for the American women. She shared the podium with winner Evgenia Medvedeva, 16, and bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya, 18, both representing Russia.

As Wagner prepares to compete in this year’s world championships, here is more information on the figure skater’s career and personal life.


1. She Has Won 3 U.S. Titles

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Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner celebrate after the Championship Ladies Free Skate Program Competition during the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. (Getty)

In addition to winning U.S. titles in 2012, 2013 and 2015, Wagner won a bronze medal in the first Olympic team skating event at Sochi, Russia, in 2014. Wagner finished seventh in the singles competition, three places behind rival Gracie Gold, a two-time U.S. champion.

Considering her age, some predicted Wagner’s chance to place on the 2018 Olympic podium had passed. However, Wagner has remained focused on proving she is capable of much more in her figure skating career.

“I choose to view the word ‘veteran’ as experienced, and experience is never a bad thing, because I’ve gone through the good experiences and the brutally terrible awful experiences,” Wagner told NBC sports during nationals.

Wagner, who finished second in this year’s nationals, 2.44 points behind Karen Chen, was the favorite entering the competition.

“This is perfect for me,” Wagner told NBC following her silver medal finish. “It gives me the opportunity to go in [to the world championships] with my head down and keep on working. I know where I lost my points. … I’m not planning on peaking here.”

If Wagner makes the PyeongChang Winter Games, she would become the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s singles skater since 1928.

“I think that for me, that world silver medal definitely turned the tables and got the ball rolling,” Wagner told the Los Angeles Times. “I think it helps show the importance of a true performance and a woman on the ice and having maturity and skating skills and life experience.”

In addition to rigorous on ice training, Wagner recently told the Daily Burn that she does a mix of cardio and plyometric work off the ice to help her maintain stamina.

“We do a lot of off-ice drills and jumps to really get the lower body going,” Wagner said.

Wagner trains alongside Adam Rippon who won his first National title in January. They begin their warm-up routine by jumping rope.

“Every morning we warm up with 100 doubles in a row before we get on the ice. It gets the blood flowing, loosens us up and gets the muscles engaged and ready to go. Jumping rope is a full-body exercise and it’s really underrated for how hard it is! It took both of us a while to get to 100.”

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2. She Began Skating at Age 5

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Ashley Wagner performs in an exhibition event during the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the Sprint Center. (Getty)

Wagner began skating at age five in Eagle River, Alaska. As she recalls, her mother offered her a choice of ballet lessons or ice skating lessons. In a refusal to wear pink shoes, Wagner began figure skating in kindergarten.

“There was nothing to do there in the winter and I was driving my mom crazy,” Wagner told Skate Today. “So I had a choice of ballet or skating and I wasn’t going to do anything in pink shoes.”

According to her mother, Wagner quickly took to the sport and showed natural talent early on.

Always a competitor, Wagner told The Washington Post she strived for gold from the very beginning.

“From a young age, I was viciously competitive,” she said.

By 1998, Wagner set her sights on the Olympics. Wagner told Ice Network she first knew she wanted to compete in the Olympics when she watched Tara Lipinski win the gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics on television.

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3. Wagner Moved Frequently as a Child

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Ashley Wagner has a quiet moment with coach Rafael Arutyunyan prior to her performance in the Championship Ladies Free Skate during the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. (Getty)

Born in 1991 at a U.S. Army base in Germany, Wagner hopscotched around the country for much of her early childhood. Wagner, daughter of an Army officer, moved seven times with her family before they settled in Northern Virginia when Ashley was 10.

Wagner trained in Kansas City and Tacoma, Washington until her family moved to Portland, Oregon, where she was coached by Tonya Harding’s former coach, Dody Teachman.

In January 2002, Wagner began training with Shirley Hughes in Alexandria, Virginia, which is when her figure skating career began to blossom.

After training six years alongside Hughes at Mount Vernon Ice Arena, Wagner moved her training base to Wilmington, Del., to work with Priscilla Hill, the former coach of Johnny Weir.

Wagner currently lives in southern California but considers Seabeck, Washington, her home.

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4. She Dubbed Herself Figure Skating’s ‘Almost Girl’

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Ashley Wagner competes in the Ladies Short Program during the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. (Getty)

Wagner missed the 2010 Olympics by 4.08 points. Following the disappointment, she briefly considered leaving competitive figure skating and heading to college like most of her friends. Wagner even dubbed herself figure skating’s “Almost Girl,” according to The Washington Post. However, instead of backing down from her Olympic dream, she ramped up her training.

Wagner moved back home and continued her preparation. However, she went on to struggle through a challenging 2011 season, plagued by muscle spasms.

Realizing it was time for a change, she moved to Southern California in June 2011 to train with 82-year-old World Figure Skating Hall of Famer John Nicks and choreographer Phillip Mills at the Aliso Viejo Ice Palace. Nicks is known for training Olympic medalists including Peggy Fleming and Sasha Cohen.

“I needed to be pushed. I needed to be uncomfortable,” Wagner told The Washington Post. “I definitely wanted somebody who wasn’t going to mother me. I’m such a strong-headed person and so stubborn, I don’t need someone to be sweet to me. I needed someone to say, ‘This is how it’s going to be, and this is how you’re going to do it.’ ”

In 2012, she went on to win the ladies’ title in the Four Continents event and won the first of back-to-back U.S. championships with Nicks guiding her way.

Nine months before the Sochi Olympics in April of 2013, Nicks informed Wagner he could no longer travel to competitions at age 84.

Wagner’s current coach is Rafael Arutyunyan, who competed and coached under the former Soviet system.


5. Her Selection to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Was Met With Controversy

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Ashley Wagner of the United States looks on before the Ladies Free Skate program on Day 6 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016. (Getty)

2014 was a rollercoaster year for the figure skater who experienced many highs and lows on her Olympic journey. Instead of defending her U.S. title in 2014, Wagner finished in a crushing fourth place.

Despite her poor performance at the U.S. Championships, Wagner was named to the Olympic team the day following the competition. U.S. Figure Skating’s governing body heavily weighs skaters’ international results over the previous season, rather than relying on a single qualifying event. Wagner’s consistently high results from previous competitions earned her a spot on the team. However, the decision confused many who saw Mirai Nagasu outperform Wagner at the national championships.

“If you look at Ashley Wagner’s record and performance, she has the top credentials of any of our female skaters, USFS President Patricia St. Peter told reporters following the selection. “We don’t use a single competition as the sole measurement for who should participate in the Olympic Winter Games.”

Wagner represented the United States alongside Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds.

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Mariah Bell: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

After winning an unexpected silver at Skate America, Mariah Bell has emerged as one of figure skating’s most promising talents. (Getty)

Mariah Bell may not be a household name yet, but the 20-year-old figure skater is a contender to make next year’s Olympic team. In the past year, Bell has gone from newcomer to rising athlete.

Bell was thrust into the spotlight after finishing third at the U.S. Championships in January, just a year away from the Winter Olympics. Her strong performance at nationals qualified her for the world championships in Helsinki beginning March 29.

As Bell prepares for worlds, here’s more about the young athlete and her figure skating career:


1. Bell Won Bronze at Nationals

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Mariah Bell competes in the Championship Ladies Free Skate during the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships on January 21, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Getty)

Bell was sixth after the short program at the U.S. Championships, but rose to clinch bronze after an impressive free skate. It marked her first medal on the senior level.

“I’m very, very excited,” Bell told The Denver Post. “The way that I skated wasn’t the shocking feeling. It was more when I was actually standing on the podium, because that’s something I’ve wanted all year. I knew I was capable of it, but you have to go out and skate two great performances.”

In October, Bell had a breakthrough performance at Skate America, earning an unexpected silver.

“There was more talk after Skate America, there was a buzz here [for me], and that was something I never had in my career yet,” Bell told Excelle Sports. “Being able to skate performances that I’m more proud of when there is more pressure on myself is something I am really proud of.”

Her current program features a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and triple flip-single loop-triple Salchow. Bell explained that she will look to add more elements to her programs in the offseason.

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2. Bell Trains With Ashley Wagner

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(L-R) Mariah Bell of USA celebrates winning second place and Ashley Wagner of USA celebrates winning first place in the ladies program at 2016 Progressive Skate America on October 21, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Getty)

The Oklahoma native found a high level of success before competing on the senior level. Bell won bronze as a novice in 2011 and silver as a junior in 2013.

“I definitely want to show I’m a senior lady now,” Bell told Excelle Sports. “I think I got caught in the mix of coming up in the juniors switching into senior and I want to establish as a senior. I really want to continue building up my technical arsenal.”

Bell will make her World Championship debut alongside veteran Ashley Wagner and 17-year-old Karen Chen.

Bell placed right behind training partner Ashley Wagner at both, Nationals and Skate America. Bell and Wagner are coached by renowned Figure Skating Coach Rafael Arutyunyan. Before the season began, Bell moved to California to train with Arutunian and has taken strides in her career since.

Wagner, who won silver at last year’s Worlds sees a high level of potential in Bell.

“Right now you are looking at something that is very exciting for U.S. figure skating—someone who is taking over once the veterans [retire],” Wagner told Excelle Sports. “We haven’t had a glimpse of this the last couple of years.”

Although training alongside your competition could create concerns, both women told USA Today it has been beneficial.

“Ashley has a really incredible work ethic, and she comes every day really motivated to train. Just to be able to train with her has been really, really awesome,” Bell told the newspaper.

“You have no idea what it’s going to be like bringing another female competitor into the rink. I didn’t know her that well before she started working with Raf. I was a little bit anxious,” Wagner explained in the article. “She has so much positive energy, and coming into the rink every single day and having her there has been really great for me. She really pushes me.”


3. In August, Bell Changed Coaches

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Mariah Bell competes in the Ladies Short Program during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships. (Getty)

In August, Bell moved from Monument, Colo., where she was coached by Kori Ade, to Lakewood, Calif., to train under Rafael Arutunian. Arutunian, a former Soviet national competitor, has coached Michelle Kwan and currently trains 2016 U.S. men’s champion Adam Rippon.

“We worked on my technique,” Bell told Excelle Sports. “I was really excited to show improvement, and I was looking for more technical help and elite training. The environment is so awesome and everyone is so supportive.”


4. Bell Began Skating at 3 Years Old

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Mariah Bell competes in the Championship Ladies Free Skate Program Competition during the 2015 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. (Getty)

The Bell family’s life has revolved around figure skating for nearly two decades. Mariah’s older sister, Morgan was the first in the family to take skating lessons at 6 years old.

“Mariah was a rink rat,” Morgan told Omaha World Herald. “She was always there, so mom put her in group lessons at 3.”

The Bell sisters remained dedicated to the sport and moved around the country to work with the best coaches, from South Carolina to Illinois to Texas.

Like all families in competitive figure skating, many sacrifices were made including time spent apart.

In 2007, Mariah’s mother, Kendra and her daughters moved from Texas to Colorado so they could train with a new coach. With elite competitors spending close to $80,000 per year, per skater, her father, Andy had to stay in Houston for his job at a petrochemical company.

However, the tough decisions and hard work paid off in 2011, when both sisters qualified for nationals for the first time. Mariah was a novice and Morgan competed as a senior.

Mariah took bronze on the novice level. Morgan was 17th in senior competition.

Although Morgan is no longer competing, she has continued her skating career with Disney on Ice.


5. She Was Named After One of Her Mother’s Students

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Mariah Bell competes in the Ladies Free Skating during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships. (Getty)

Bell whose full name is Mariah Cheyenne was named after a student her mother taught in preschool.

As Bell explained on Ice Network, the student’s name was Cheyenne Mariah, and her mother flipped it.

Bell has often said her mother has been central in her figure skating career.

“We were extremely proud of her performances and the fact that she was able to overcome the nerves,” her mother told The Denver Post following the U.S. Championships. “She went into nationals kind of with a name, which was the first time at the senior level that she had done that. She had interviews, she had people wanting to talk to her, and that was all new. She wasn’t used to that attention, and I thought she did a very nice job managing it all.”

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Karen Chen: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

(Getty)

Karen Chen, a 17-year-old Californian captured the attention of the American skating circuit when she won a bronze medal at the U.S. national figure skating championships two years ago.

However, the following two seasons brought a string of setbacks due to skate boot problems. Chen rebounded, and stunned the figure skating world when she earned gold at this year’s U.S. championships. As she prepares for her first appearance at the World Championships, the home schooled high school senior seems poised for continued success.

Here’s more about Chen and her figure skating career:


1. Chen Won the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Karen Chen, Karen Chen figure skating, ice skating, Karen Chen ice skating

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Chen, who only stands 4-foot-8, is already making a big impression on U.S. figure skating.

She was a surprising first-time national champion at the U.S. figure skating championships in January.

“I skated such a great short and I was definitely thrilled with it,” Chen told Mercury News, “so I definitely had some pressure going into the long, thinking I really had a chance at this.”

Chen’s free skate score of 141.40 gave her a 214.22 total, which earned her a first place finish over Ashley Wagner and Mariah Bell, who earned silver and bronze, respectively. The three figure skaters are advancing to the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland which begin March 29.

“Karen has deserved the placement she’s gotten so far. That’s awesome for figure skating,” Wagner told the news site. “I think we’re going to be seeing a very strong world team.”

Wagner offered more praise for Chen’s talent in a USA Today article.

“I think the position that Karen is in right now is awesome, because it’s just a wide open road in front of her,” Wagner said. “She has youth on her side and so much promise, and I think that’s really exciting for U.S. Figure Skating.

“I think that we definitely need a new crop of young girls to come in because I will die one day and you guys will need more people. So, Karen, keep it up.

Chen’s short program received a score of 72.82 from the judges, the highest ever recorded for a short program at nationals. The program, which features music from “On Golden Pond,” was choreographed by Chen herself.

Although choreography was something Chen had previously only done in exhibition programs, her coach, Tammy Gambill, supported Chen’s decision.

“I know when she does it on her own, it comes from the heart, and it’s going to be better,” Gambill told Ice Network.

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2. Chen Finished Third at Nationals in 2015

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(Getty)

Chen was a bronze medalist at the U.S. championships in 2015. Since she was only 15 years old, however, Chen was too young to go to senior worlds.

She was eighth at last year’s U.S. championships, and finished fifth, fifth, seventh and sixth in her four Grand Prix competitions the past two seasons.

Chen finished a disappointing 12th last month at the Four Continents in South Korea at the 2018 Olympic ice rink. She attributed the performance to old boots and the pressure of being the U.S. champion.


3. Chen Has Struggled With Boot Problems

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After her third place finish at nationals in 2015, Chen was faced with challenges that stalled her training.

“It was definitely a struggle,” Chen told Ice Network. “I went through a lot of obstacles, particularly with boot problems that resulted in injuries. I’m happy I got most of it resolved, and I’m feeling good again.

“I guess I’ve just learned from all my past mistakes,” she continued. “Hopefully, I’ll keep improving.”

Chen went through more than a dozen pairs in one six-month span prior to the 2015-16 season in an effort to get a comfortable fit, according to Ice Network.

“I started training really hard again in June,” Chen told the publication. “I’ve been just kind of working my way back up.”


4. Chen Began Skating at 4 Years Old

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Chen was born in Fremont, California on August 16, 1999. She first stepped on ice at age of four and entered her first competition when she was six.

According to her website, Chen was a very shy child and found group lessons challenging, but always loved the thrill of competing.

Chen has been mentored by Kristi Yamaguchi, who also grew up in Fremont while training to become an Olympic and world champion.

Yamaguchi, who is familiar with the pressure of competing in worlds, recently shared some words of wisdom with Chen.

“The one thought was funny: she told me to skate dumb,” Chen told Mercury News. “Your body knows what to do. When you’re out there you just want to let your body do what it knows best and things will happen the way you want to.”


5. Chen is Homeschooled

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(Getty)

Chen’s parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan in 1995. They introduced their children to figure skating at a young age.

“I was about 6 when my old coach helped me realize I really loved skating, and gradually I just started skating more and more,” Chen told Ice Network.

She currently trains alongside her younger brother Jeffrey, who is also a competitive figure skater.

Chen has had to make several tough decisions and sacrifices to pursue a skating career, including moving and enrolling in home schooling.

However, education has remained a priority for the high school senior. Chen’s determination on the ice is met with hard work off the ice in her studies. Chen, who attends public school online through Connections Academy, is a straight A student. While Math and science are her favorite subjects, the figure skater is also passionate about art. Chen has taken art lessons since she was 8 years old. Her artwork from throughout the years is displayed on the walls of her family’s living and family room, according to her personal website.

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Jason Brown: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Jason Brown has quickly advanced from newcomer to top talent after taking the figure skating world by storm in 2014.

“I feel like I’ve lived an entire career in the middle of these four years [between the 2014 and 2018 Olympics],” he told ESPN.com in January.

The 22-year-old Chicago native suffered a significant back injury in 2016, which forced him out of last year’s U.S. Championships and World Championships.

Entering this year’s U.S. Championships, Brown was slowed by injury again when he suffered a stress fracture in his right fibula.

Brown was able to overcome the obstacle— finishing third in nationals, and subsequently, earning a spot to compete in the 2017 World Championships.

Here’s more about the Monument-based athlete’s figure skating career and personal background:


1. Brown Began Skating at a Young Age

Brown fell in love with the sport of figure skating while watching his older sister, Jordan on the ice. Brown saw her in an ice show and was mesmerized by the light and costumes. “I wanna do that!” he told his mom, according to Medill.

His mom agreed, and signed him up for lessons.

Coached by Kori Ade since the age of five, Brown and Ade share a close relationship.

“I remember saying, ‘Ooh, maybe I shouldn’t take over so much or be so involved,’ ” Ade told ESPN.

Brown learned more than jumps, spins and footwork from his longtime coach. In his early years, Ade taught him and other young students life lessons like, chewing with mouths closed, keeping socks on, and making eye contact with adults.

“She was a holistic coach. When they were little, she taught them to look a person in the eye when you talk to them, to shake hands,” Jason’s mother, Marla explained to ESPN. “From my perspective as a parent, I was just as impressed with how she was raising my child as a quality human being as much as teaching ice skating.”

Brown trained in various rinks in the Chicago area until April of 2013. He currently trains at the Skokie Valley Skating Club in Monument, Colorado.

Brown remained loyal to Ade, although others tried to persuade the family to make a coaching change.

“We never thought about leaving Kori,” Marla Brown told ESPN. “Did some other coach have the secret technique? Did they have a better eye for mistakes he was making? My husband and I would talk and say maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t, but at the end of the day our child could not have been happier or more motivated with anyone else.”

Since 2009, Brown’s programs have been choreographed mainly by Rohene Ward.

Brown had an impressive run as a junior. He took gold at the 2011-2012 Junior Grand Prix final in Quebec, bronze at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Minsk and silver at the 2013 World Junior Championships in Milan.

According to his ISU bio, Brown also skated pairs with Thea Milburn for three years.

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2. Brown’s Skating Career Began as a Hobby

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Marla Brown recalls that the early days of her son’s skating career began as a fun hobby. As she told ESPN, Olympic medals were not even a thought that crossed her mind.

“Skating was something to do. We certainly were not thinking about the Olympics,” Marla said of herself and her husband, Steven, according to ESPN. “[Jason’s] sister was taking lessons and I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and have them go at the same time.

“Kori was very young, not an experienced coach. And Jason was little and it just started as a fun activity like gymnastics and soccer.”

Neither of Brown’s parents have a figure skating background. Marla is a former TV producer and his dad, Steven co-owns a lighting business.

While many figure skating families often relocate for advanced training and world-renowned coaches, Brown’s parents took a different approach.

Although Brown spent summers training in Lake Arrowhead, California, he never moved there full time. Brown remained at home in Chicago until he graduated from high school. In 2013, he moved to Colorado Springs to prepare for the Sochi Olympics.

“Just the idea of him moving away to become a skater didn’t seem worth it to us,” Marla Brown told Medill. “Giving up a normal childhood…We didn’t understand that as a worthwhile trade-off.”

Brown is grateful that his family did not follow the suggestions of others to relocate.

“Looking back on it, I’m so unbelievably grateful that my parents stuck to their guns,” he told Medill. “That support system — that would have been something I would have lacked if I would have been away.”


3. Brown Is Currently a College Student

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Brown’s dedication to skating has always been matched with a strong work ethic in school.

Brown is a graduate of Highland Park High School where he received the Ralph Potter Memorial Award for Exceptional Ability and Achievement as well as the President’s Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence.

In 2013, he began his college career at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. His favorite part about college? The flexibility.

“I love how flexible the hours of classes are. You are able to arrange your class schedule pretty much however you’d like at the beginning of the year, pick the teacher, and the time of day your class will meet,” Brown wrote on his personal website.

Brown has a rigorous training schedule that consumes his daily routine. On a normal day, he’s at the rink from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. His on-ice training is followed by at least two hours of off-ice conditioning which includes various work outs, stretches and recovery.


4. Brown Is a 2015 U.S. Champion

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At 20 years old, Brown became the youngest man to win a national championship since Johnny Weir in 2004.

Brown held off Adam Rippon by 2.5 points to claim gold at the 2015 U.S. championships. It was the closest margin since Weir and Evan Lysacek had the same scores in 2008. Brown totaled 274.98 points.

“I’m so overwhelmed right now, so excited,” Brown said on NBC shortly after he skated. “It’s been such a journey from four years ago [finishing ninth at age 16 in his senior nationals debut, also in Greensboro] to now.”

Brown’s free skate featured an impressive eight triple jumps.

“I was performing to the audience and enjoying every single moment,” Brown said. “I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

Two years later, however Brown withdrew from the 2016 U.S. Championships with a back injury. He attributed the injury to overuse, according to Medill.


5. Brown’s ‘Riverdance’ Program Became a YouTube Sensation

Brown burst into the national spotlight with a fast-paced Irish-dance program at the 2014 U.S. figure skating championships. The enthralling program went viral on YouTube, but more importantly, it earned him a silver medal, and a coveted spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

Brown, who skated to a piece from Bill Whelan’s “Riverdance,” said Whelan contacted him following nationals. Whelan praised Brown’s performance and the choreography.

“It means the world to me, the fact that a composer of a piece that I skate to would reach out to me,” Brown said in a YouTube video. “I was so taken aback by it.”

In the interview, Brown also explained the inspiration behind the program.

“It was an Olympic year, and we wanted to find something really special and something that was going to be really challenging and really hard for me as a skater, and for me as a performer.”

Brown said he was looking for a piece that pushed his boundaries, but a Riverdance routine never came to mind. When his choreographer, Rohene Ward, first suggested “Reel around the Sun,” Brown didn’t think he could keep up with the rhythmic music.

As Brown recalled, he told Ward, “What are you thinking? I can’t pull this off.”

However, the two would end up choreographing one of the most memorable programs in U.S. men’s figure skating history.

Usually Brown can cleanly run through new programs in about two months. However, “Riverdance” took him over six months.

“Once I made it over that hump and was ready, and fully trained, it just took off,” Brown said. “Every time the music came on I was just in love with it, and it got me excited and I couldn’t wait to perform it.”

Ten days after his U.S. championship performance, his program had notched nearly 3 million YouTube views. The internet went wild, and Brown’s ponytail soon had its own Twitter account.

The following month, Brown, placed ninth individually at the Sochi Olympics and won a team event bronze. At 19 years old, he was the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s singles skater since 1976.

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Nathan Chen: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Nathan Chen has emerged as an Olympic medal contender for the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018.

Last month, Chen shattered U.S. Championship scoring records as he became the youngest U.S. men’s gold medalist since 1966.

Since the start of the 2016 season, the 17-year-old has had an impressive ascent. Heading into the 2017 World Championships, Chen is a gold-medal favorite.

Here’s more on the figure skater’s background, personal life and skating career:


1. Chen Landed a Record 5 Quads for U.S. Title in 2017

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Chen became the first skater to land five quadruple jumps in one program at this year’s U.S. figure skating championships.

His nearly flawless free skate to “The Polovtsian Dances,” began with an impressive quad lutz-triple toe combination. Chen went on to land all five quadruple jumps cleanly.

“That was an amazing performance. I’m really happy with what I did,” Chen told the Denver Post. “Component-wise, I kind of faltered a little bit. That stuff happens when you’re pushing these secondary elements to the max. It’s definitely something that I’m looking forward to working on to improve for worlds.”

With a record score of 318.47 points and a record winning margin of 55.44 points, Chen claimed gold to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion in 51 years.

He landed four quads during his short program to score a U.S. record 106.39 points.
Chen, who was out five months after suffering a hip injury in 2016, has struggled with various injuries in recent years as he’s gone through growth spurts.

“These big jumps take a big toll on the body, especially a young body. So, it’s kind of risk or reward, I guess. I feel like at this level, it’s kind of necessary,” he told NBC News.

However, Chen showed his ability to overcome those obstacles at nationals with two record-setting performances in January.

“Life often tests us, it puts us through examinations, and Nathan gets all sorts of scrutiny from it, too,” his coach Rafael Arutyunyan, told NBC Sports. “But this young man walks out of all such pressing situations as the winner. He behaves like a real man.”

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2. Chen Won the 2017 Four Continents Championships

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Chen claimed the biggest title of his young career with a gold medal performance at the 2017 Four Continents Championships in late January.

The competition included a tough field: every Olympic medal contender except for two-time reigning world champion Javier Fernandez.

Chen took the ice following a solid skate by Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu with an exceptional performance at the 2018 Olympic venue. He landed five quadruple jumps to total 307.46 points— matching his record for a free skate, and the highest in the world this season.

However, Chen still saw room for improvement.

“There were some mistakes here and there,” he told NBC Sports. “There are definitely things I need to work on, but I’m certainly happy with the way everything went.”

His first place finish marked the biggest win for a U.S. man in international competition since Evan Lysacek‘s Olympic title in 2010.

In December 2016, Chen won a silver medal at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Marseilles, France. He became the second youngest skater ever to medal in the event’s history, according to NBC Sports.

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3. Chen Is From Salt Lake City

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Chen was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Zhidong Chen and Hetty Wang, both immigrants from China. Neither of his parents come from athletic careers— his father is a scientist and his mother is a medical translator. Chen is the youngest of four siblings: Alice, Janice, Tony and Colin.

He attended West High School in Salt Lake City and Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead, California. As a sophomore in August 2013, Chen enrolled in public school online through Connections Academy.

In addition to figure skating, Chen trained in ballet with Ballet West Academy and also competed in gymnastics at the state and regional levels for seven years.


4. He Began Skating at 3 Years Old

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The Salt Lake City native’s interest in skating was first piqued when watching his older brothers play hockey. Soon after, Chen started ice skating at age 3 on a 2002 Olympic practice rink.

By the time he was 10, he was making his national debut at the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. He won the national novice title to become the youngest novice champion in the history of U.S. Figure Skating.

During the 2011–12 season, Chen moved up to the junior level. At the time, he was coached by Genia Chernyshova and also began traveling to Lake Arrowhead, California to work with Rafael Arutyunyan to improve his jumps. That same season, Chen relocated to California to train with Arutyunyan full-time in mid-December, according to Ice Network.

Arutyunyan is a world-renowned coach, who has garnered the reputation as a jump specialist.
Chen has always been known for his technical prowess and challenging jump combinations. However, Arutyunyan’s guidance has pushed him to the next level.

“Ever since I was a younger skater, I’ve been working my way to these big jumps,” he told NBC News. “Once you land a jump, you put it straight in the program. That’s the way I’ve always been doing it. Once I landed the triple Salchow, I put it in the program. First landed triple toe, straight into the program. That’s what I did with my quad suite.”


5. He Plans to Attend College

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Chen plans to attend college, although he is waiting to enroll until after his gap year, which he will spend training for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Although a college education is a priority for Chen, his sights are currently set on the Olympics.

“I don’t want to set specific goals, at the moment,” Chen told NBC News. “It’s a little bit far away to say where exactly I’ll be during that period of time. But, of course, everyone’s goal is to podium at the Olympics.”

Following his record-breaking performance at the U.S. Championships, Chen was asked if he felt an Olympic gold medal was within reach.

“I believe it’s possible, yeah,” Chen explained to NBC Sports. “It’s still in the distance for me. There’s so much room I have to improve to make myself at that level, but I think it’s definitely possible.”

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World Figure Skating Championships 2017: TV Schedule & Events for Wednesday

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The highly anticipated 2017 Figure Skating World Championships get underway Wednesday in Helskinki.

Action begins with the ladies short program, where 17-year-old Russian Evgenia Medvedeva–the defending World and European champ who is undefeated since November 2015–stands as the decided favorite.

“She is technically flawless, and if there is an athlete that we should be chasing, obviously it’s Yevgenia,” said Ashley Wagner, who took silver last year and is the United States’ best shot at pulling an upset.

Also on the docket for Wednesday is the pairs short program. Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are looking to win a world title for the third straight year, though they enter with some question marks after finishing third at the Grand Prix Final and second behind Sui Wenjing and Han Cong at the Four Continents Championships.

Here’s a rundown of when and where to watch all the action:


Ladies Short Program

Date: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Time: 3:40 a.m. ET – 9:30 a.m. ET (You can click here for the complete start order for each competitor)

TV Channel, United States: NBC Sports Network, starting at noon ET

TV Channel, Canada: CBC, starting at 8 p.m. ET

Live Stream, United States: NBC Sports Live Extra (11 a.m. ET), Sling TV (noon ET) or Ice Network (3:40 a.m. ET)

Live Stream, Canada: CBC.ca (3:40 a.m. ET)


Pairs Short Program

Date: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Time: 11:10 a.m. ET – 4 p.m. ET (Start Order)

TV Channel, United States: NBC Sports Network, starting at 2 p.m. ET

TV Channel, Canada: CBC, starting at 8 p.m. ET (Ladies short program and pairs short program are part of same broadcast. You can find the full schedule here)

Live Stream, United States: NBC Sports Live Extra (2 p.m. ET), Sling TV (2 p.m. ET) or Ice Network (11:10 a.m. ET)

Live Stream, Canada: CBC.ca (11:10 a.m. ET)

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Figure Skating World Championships Live Stream 2017: How to Watch Day 1

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Looking to watch a live stream of the 2017 Figure Skating World Championships on Wednesday? There are a couple of different options, depending on whether or not you have a cable subscription.

The ladies short program begins at 3:40 a.m. ET and the pairs short program begins at 11:10 a.m. ET. In the United States, NBC Sports Network will have television coverage starting at noon ET, and in Canada, CBC will have television coverage starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Whether you’re looking to watch live action or just the television coverage, here’s a complete rundown of your streaming options:


How to Watch Figure Skating World Championships on Desktop, USA

If You Don’t Have Cable: Ice Network or Sling TV

If you want to watch the action live, starting at 3:40 a.m. ET, you can do so via Icenetwork.com. A subscription provides live stream access to all major figure skating events and costs $49.99 for a season pass.

If you just want to watch NBC Sports Network’s coverage, you can do so via Sling TV, an online streaming service that provides access to select channels for a monthly fee. Here’s how to sign up for a free 7-day trial:

1) Click here to go to the Sling website

2) Click on “Watch Now 7 Days Free”

3) Create an account

4) Select the channel package or packages you want. Make sure to include “Sling Blue,” which includes NBC Sports Network

5) Enter your payment information. Sling Blue costs $25 per month, but if you cancel your subscription within seven days of signing up, you will not be charged

6) Download the app for your computer to start watching


If you Do Have Cable: NBC Sports Live Extra

Users can watch a live stream of the NBC Sports Network broadcast (starts at noon ET) on their computer via NBC Sports Live Extra.

For this option, authentication is required, meaning you will have to verify your cable/satellite subscription by signing in with a username/email address and password.


How to Watch Figure Skating World Championships on Mobile & Other Devices, USA

Ice Network or Sling TV Users

If you have an Ice Network subscription, you can watch coverage on mobile or other streaming devices via the Ice Network app, though it’s only available via the App Store.

If you have a Sling TV subscription (read above to learn how to start a free trial), you can watch NBC Sports Network’s coverage on the Sling TV app, which is free to download in the following places:

App Store (or Apple TV)

Google Play Store

Amazon App Store (or Amazon Fire TV)

Roku

Xbox One

You can click here for a complete list of devices compatible with the Sling TV app.


NBC Sports Live Extra Users

Users with a cable subscription can watch the NBC Sports Network coverage on mobile or other streaming devices via the NBC Sports app, which can be downloaded for free in the following locations:

App Store

Google Play Store

Microsoft App Store

Roku

As is the case on desktop, authentication is required, meaning you will have to verify your cable/satellite/telco subscription by signing in with a username/email address and password.


How to Watch Figure Skating World Championships, Canada

Viewers in Canada can watch a live stream of every event via CBC.ca. You can click here for the full schedule.

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Evgenia Medvedeva: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Evgenia Medvedeva has dominated women’s figure skating since winning worlds last year.

The 17-year-old from Moscow, who won gold with a record-setting free skate at the European Figure Skating Championships in January, is the favorite entering this week’s world championships in Helsinki. Medvedeva is known for her triple-triple jump combinations and polished routines.

Here’s more about Medvedeva and her figure skating career:


1. Medvedeva Won Worlds in 2016

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Since winning the world championship in 2016, Medvedeva has become a force in women’s figure skating. Medvedeva has been undefeated since November 2015– winning the last 11 events in her first two seasons at the senior level.

If she defends her title this week, she could be the first female singles skater to win back-to-back world titles since Michelle Kwan of the U.S. in 2001.

Medvedeva’s scores from her four international competitions this season are currently the four highest scores in the world and all above 220 points, according to NBC Sports.

Her winning streak includes the 2014 Junior Grand Prix Final title, the 2015 world junior title, the 2016 world title and the last two European and Grand Prix Final titles.

“Doubters said it was a title for a single season but I’m happy that she’s disproving them,” her choreographer Ilya Averbukh told The Associated Press. “She set herself the big target of an Olympic medal next year and she treats every competition as a step on the road to the Olympics.”

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2. Medvedeva Incorporates Pantomime Into Her Programs

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Medvedeva has earned a reputation for routines with high performance quality.

Her free skate showcases her artistic abilities, as she is placed into the character of a woman hearing the heartbreaking news of a loved one’s death. Her music is from the film, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which depicts the events of 9/11.

The Russian skater has worked to incorporate facial expressions, acting and pantomime, into her on-ice programs.

“I do mimicry and pantomime, but I also use my voice at the start of my short program,” Medvedeva told Ice Network. “This is so interesting for me. I think it’s the first time in history that a skater uses his voice.”

Although she does not work with actors, Medvedeva says she practices her facial expressions, and pantomime every day.

“As soon as I skate to my music during each run-through, I do mimicry and pantomime,” she explained to Ice Network. “They are a part of my programs, as they belong to the second (components) mark. So I need to practice them each time.”

When asked how she relates to the character she portrays in her free skate, Medvedeva told Ice Network:

In fact, I’m just living a “little life” in my program. The free program is a dramatic story, and I consider it a little life in my heart. By this, I mean that I’m living the life of a specific person, who has a dramatic day. In the morning, that person says goodbye to a beloved one — a brother, a spouse, whoever she loves. She is in a rather good mood, as she expects him back at night. Then as the day passes by, she understands what’s going on from the television and news on the radio. His flight has been hijacked, and she will never see him back.

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3. She Was Inspired to Skate By Two-Time Olympic Champion Evgeni Plushenko

Evgenia Medvedeva, Evgenia Medvedeva program, Evgenia Medvedeva ice skating, Evgenia Medvedeva figure skating, figure skating, ice skating

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Medvedeva, whose mom was a figure skater, started to take lessons when she was just three years old. As the world champion explained to the Russian Figure Skating Federation, her parents enrolled her in skating lessons to correct her figure.

“My parents wanted me to figure skate not because my mother had been a skater, even though this also played a role, but because my figure was not so nice,” Medvedeva said. “Actually, my shoulder blades still stick out, but I think that appearance-wise figure skating has made me more attractive.”

From a young age, she was inspired by two-time Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko.

“Once I saw Evgeni Plushenko perform…I wanted to skate like him,” Medvedeva told Russia Beyond the Headlines. “I wasn’t attracted to other sports.”


4. Her Trademark Is Jumping With One Hand Raised Above Her Head

Evgenia Medvedeva, Evgenia Medvedeva program, Evgenia Medvedeva ice skating, Evgenia Medvedeva figure skating, figure skating, ice skating

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Medvedeva commonly performs some of her jumps with an arm over her head, a technique called the “Tano” variation. The position was first popularized by Brian Boitano as part of his triple lutz jump.

Medvedeva is also known for performing several jump combinations ending with a triple toe loop. She has discussed adding a quadruple salchow into her repertoire.

In addition to a rigorous training schedule, Medvedeva is also a dedicated student. She does homework during breaks between practices and on her only day off.

“It is difficult to study and have a sports career, but it is important,” she told RT.com. “Sometimes I’m so tired after practice that I have no energy for homework but the teachers still ask me to have things done. They don’t yell at me, but could make me feel embarrassed.”


5. Her Coach Is Eteri Tutberidze

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Medvedeva is currently coached by Eteri Tutberidze, whose former student Yulia Lipnitskaya won an Olympic gold in Sochi in 2014. Tutberidze has been a mentor and role model for the young figure skater.

Medvedeva opened up about their relationship to RT.com:

My coach basically raised me. We spent a lot of time together. She always taught me something new. I even talk like her a little bit, copy some of her mannerisms and the way I behave and move. She is strict but creates a very positive atmosphere. We go out on the ice knowing that we need to work because it is our profession, but practices just fly by because there’s no unnecessary tension.

Medvedeva says Tutberidze has always taught her to meet every challenge head-on with a strong work ethic. She says her coach reminds her, if things are difficult, you need to work even harder: “Get up and keep going.”

She also told Ice Network that her coach and choreographer Sergei Dudakov, know her better than she knows herself:

My coaches know me better than I know myself, as they can look at me from so many different sides and understand me so well. I just trust them. Let’s imagine my coach tells me, “You can skate tango really well.” If I answer her, “No, I can’t, I’m sorry,” she’ll tell me that I have to try it first. Well, when I try it, it will go well — because I trust her!

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World Figure Skating Championships 2017: Women’s Short Program Results

Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva, currently ranked 1st, competes in the women’s short program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland. (Getty)

The World Figure Skating Championships got underway today in Helsinki, Finland.

The competition began with the ladies’ short program, where 17-year-old Russian Evgenia Medvedeva leads the field after a near-record score of 79.01. The score was slightly lower than the all-time best of 79.21 she earned at the Grand Prix Final in December.

Medvedeva’s performance to ‘River Flows in You,’ gave her a 3.03 lead over Kaetlyn Osmond.

Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman, who are both from Canada, are second and third, respectively.

Anna Pogorilaya, is currently at fourth and American national champion Karen Chen sits at fifth.

Since winning the world championship in 2016, Medvedeva has been a force in women’s figure skating. Undefeated since November 2015, she has won her last 11 events, including the European Figure Skating Championships.

If Medvedeva defends her title this week, she could be the first female singles skater to win back-to-back world titles since Michelle Kwan of the U.S. in 2001.

Here’s a look at the leaderboard after the women’s short program. The top 24 skaters have qualified to compete in Friday’s free skate.

1 Evgenia MEDVEDEVA RUS 79.01
2 Kaetlyn OSMOND CAN 75.98
3 Gabrielle DALEMAN CAN 72.19
4 Anna POGORILAYA RUS 71.52
5 Karen CHEN USA 69.98
6 Maria SOTSKOVA RUS 69.76
7 Ashley WAGNER USA 69.04
8 Carolina KOSTNER ITA 66.33
9 Wakaba HIGUCHI JPN 65.87
10 Elizabet TURSYNBAEVA KAZ 65.48
11 Dabin CHOI KOR 62.66
12 Rika HONGO JPN 62.55
13 Mariah BELL USA 61.02
14 Ivett TOTH HUN 61.00
15 Mai MIHARA JPN 59.59
16 Xiangning LI CHN 58.28
18 Nicole RAJICOVA SVK 57.08
19 Kailani CRAINE AUS 56.97
20 Zijun LI CHN 56.30
21 Angelina KUCHVALSKA LAT
22 Laurine LECAVELIER FRA 55.49
23 Anastasia GALUSTYAN ARM 55.20
24 Nicole SCHOTT GER 54.83
25 Shuran YU SGP 52.87
26 Joshi HELGESSON SWE 52.07
27 Helery HÄLVIN EST 51.94
28 Amy LIN TPE 51.86
29 Emmi PELTONEN FIN 50.74
30 Isadora WILLIAMS BRA 50.65
31 Kerstin FRANK AUT 50.54
32 Natasha MCKAY GBR 50.10
33 Yasmine Kimiko YAMADA SUI
34 Anne Line GJERSEM NOR 46.99
35 Anna KHNYCHENKOVA UKR 46.98
36 Dasa GRM SLO 46.63
37 Michaela-Lucie HANZLIKOVA CZE 32.21

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World Figure Skating Championships 2017: Pairs Short Program Results

China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong compete in the pairs short program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland. (Getty)

The World Figure Skating Championships began on Wednesday in Helsinki, Finland.

The first day of competition consisted of the women’s and pairs short programs.

China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong lead the field after recording the highest pairs short program score in the world since the 2014 Olympics. The reigning World silver medalists missed the fall season due to Sui’s ankle and foot surgeries last spring. However, since returning to competition, they have looked incredibly strong.

At the Four Continents Championships in February, they posted a personal-best free skate and total scores to win the fourth Four Continents title of their career. Performing to “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, Wenjing and Cong produced a quadruple twist, a triple toe-double toe combination, throw triple Salchow and flip as well as level-four lifts. They will look to duplicate that performance during Thursday’s free skate at worlds.

Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot are sitting in second, while Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are third.

Two-time reigning world champions in pairs, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada are in seventh after the short programs. Duhamel and Radford were beaten at their last two international events.

The top U.S. pair was husband and wife duo, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, who are in eighth place.

Competition in pairs will resume on Thursday with the free skate. Here’s a look at the leaderboard after today’s short program:

1 Wenjing SUI / Cong HAN CHN 81.23
2 Aliona SAVCHENKO / Bruno MASSOT GER 79.84
3 Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV RUS 79.37
4 Xiaoyu YU / Hao ZHANG CHN 75.23
5 Natalia ZABIIAKO / Alexander ENBERT RUS 74.26
6 Liubov ILYUSHECHKINA / Dylan MOSCOVITCH CAN 73.14
7 Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD CAN 72.67
8 Alexa SCIMECA KNIERIM / Chris KNIERIM USA 72.17
9 Valentina MARCHEI / Ondrej HOTAREK ITA 71.04
10 Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES FRA 70.10
11 Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE ITA 70.08
12 Julianne SEGUIN / Charlie BILODEAU CAN 66.31
13 Ksenia STOLBOVA / Fedor KLIMOV RUS 65.69
14 Tae Ok RYOM / Ju Sik KIM PRK 64.52
15 Anna DUSKOVA / Martin BIDAR CZE 63.36
16 Ekaterina ALEXANDROVSKAYA / Harley WINDSOR AUS 62.03
17 Sumire SUTO / Francis BOUDREAU-AUDET JPN 61.70
18 Miriam ZIEGLER / Severin KIEFER AUT 61.01
19 Minerva Fabienne HASE / Nolan SEEGERT GER 59.76
20 Haven DENNEY / Brandon FRAZIER USA 56.23
21 Lana PETRANOVIC / Antonio SOUZA-KORDEIRU CRO 52.83
22 Goda BUTKUTE / Nikita ERMOLAEV LTU 52.49
23 Tatiana DANILOVA / Mikalai KAMIANCHUK BLR 51.79
24 Daria BEKLEMISHEVA / Mark MAGYAR HUN 45.96
25 Emilia SIMONEN / Matthew PENASSE FIN 45.49
26 Zoe JONES / Christopher BOYADJI GBR 44.33
27 Lola ESBRAT / Andrei NOVOSELOV FRA 43.78
28 Ioulia CHTCHETININA / Noah SCHERER SUI 40.50

World Figure Skating Championships 2017: Women’s Short Program Results

The World Figure Skating Championships got underway today in Helsinki, Finland. Here’s a look at the leaderboard after the women’s short program.

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