Grand Prix France the land of figure skating opportunity; TV, live stream schedule – Home of the Olympic Channel

The absences of Russians and on-break or retired Olympic stars make this figure skating season the most wide open in recent memory. The clearest example to date is this week’s Grand Prix de France, the third of six regular season stops to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final.
Belgian Loena Hendrickx, the world silver medalist, headlines the competition Friday and Saturday, live on Peacock. Hendrickx is the lone Olympic or world medalist in the field, creating opportunities for career-defining results across the four disciplines.
Hendrickx was fifth at the 2021 World Championships, then fourth at the 2022 European Championships to establish herself as the top European woman outside of the Russians. When the Russians were banned before last year’s worlds due to the war in Ukraine, Hendrickx grabbed silver by improving her score 10.91 points from an eighth-place Olympic finish.
This week, Hendrickx can become the first woman outside of Russia, Japan, the U.S. and Canada to win a full-fledged Grand Prix since Finland’s Kiira Korpi in 2012 and the first Belgian to win a Grand Prix in any discipline. Hendrickx, who turns 23 on Saturday, can become the oldest woman to win a full-fledged Grand Prix since American Ashley Wagner at 2016 Skate America.
Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe won the first two Grand Prix events with 217.61 and 197.59 points, respectively. Hendrickx will look to challenge those totals while holding off South Korean Kim Ye-Lim, who won B-level events in September and October with a top score of 213.97.
Other notables in action in France include Japanese veteran men’s singles skater Kazuki Tomono, who was sixth at worlds. Tomono has three Grand Prix podiums but no victories.
The pairs’ story may be Canadians Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps, runners-up at Skate America two weeks ago. Stellato-Dudek, 39, earned her first senior Grand Prix medal, 22 years after her Grand Prix debut as a singles skater. Stellato-Dudek, who retired from singles skating at age 17 due to hip injuries, came back at 32 in pairs in 2016.
Italians Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri can win their first Grand Prix ice dance title after second- or third-place finishes in their last seven Grand Prix starts, including the 2018 Grand Prix Final.
Grand Prix de France Broadcast Schedule
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The U.S. Figure Skating Championships, in some ways marking a new era in the sport, air live from San Jose, California, on NBC Sports, USA Network and Peacock next week.
After last February’s Olympics, U.S. figure skating saw its greatest turnover from one season to the next in more than 20 years.
Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou, the top two men last season, are not competing this season and may be done altogether. Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell, the top two women, retired. As did the top ice dance couple of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, last year’s national pairs’ champions, also left the sport.
So, for the first time since 1993, the U.S. Championships feature a reigning national champion in just one of the four disciplines.
Amid all that, U.S. skaters performed well in the fall Grand Prix Series and made the podium in all four disciplines at December’s Grand Prix Final for the first time. Note the absence of Russian skaters, banned from international events due to the war in Ukraine.
At nationals, skaters are vying for spots on the team — three per discipline — for March’s world championships in Japan.
Ilia Malinin, an 18-year-old from Virginia, is the headliner after becoming the first skater to land a quadruple Axel, doing so at all four of his events this season. He ranks second in the world by best total score, a whopping 38.28 points ahead of the next American (Camden Pulkinen).
Jason Brown is the lone Olympian in the men’s field, competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Games.
Isabeau Levito, 15 and a reigning world junior champion like Malinin, took silver at the Grand Prix Final against the world’s other top skaters. She enters nationals with a best score this season 18.13 points better than the next American, Amber Glenn. Bradie Tennell, a 2018 Olympian coming back from foot and ankle injuries, is also a threat to gain one of the three women’s spots at worlds.
Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates are the lone defending national champions and will likely make the podium for an 11th consecutive year, which would be one shy of the record.
Bates, who last year at 32 became the oldest U.S. champion in any discipline in decades, has made 12 career senior nationals podiums with Chock and former partner Emily Samuelson. It is believed that a 13th finish in the top three would break the U.S. record for a single discipline he currently shares with Michelle Kwan, Nathaniel Niles and Theresa Weld Blanchard.
In pairs, Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier return after missing nationals last year due to Frazier contracting COVID-19 the week of the event. Since, they posted the best U.S. pairs’ finish at an Olympics in 20 years, the first world title for a U.S. pair in 43 years and the first Grand Prix Final medal ever for a U.S. pair.
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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Live Broadcast Schedule
*All NBC and USA Network broadcasts also stream on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.
Olympians Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, the U.S.’ second-ranked ice dance couple, will miss next week’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
“Over the past 18 months, our team has dealt with significant physical injuries that have led to challenges in our mental health and we feel it is in our best interest to prioritize this currently,” they said in a statement.
Hawayek, 26, and Baker, 29, plan to petition for one of three ice dance spots on the U.S. team for March’s world championships in Japan.
Hawayek and Baker earned bronze at the last four U.S. Championships and were 11th in their Olympic debut last year. That came after a delayed start to their season following Hawayek’s concussion in a July 2021 training fall.
After Olympic bronze medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue retired, Hawayek and Baker ascended this Grand Prix season by ranking second among American couples behind Madison Chock and Evan Bates and placing fifth at December’s Grand Prix Final.
Chock and Bates are favored to win their fourth national title.
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