US Figure Skating Championships 2019: Friday TV Schedule, Top Contenders

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2019

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 24:  Bradie Tennell competes in the championship ladies short program during the 2019 Geico U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Little Caesars Arena on January 24, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Defending U.S. national champion Bradie Tennell will take a lead into Friday's ladies free skate at the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The 20-year-old scored 76.60 in the short program on Thursday to head the pack, while 13-year-old Alysa Liu sits second on her senior debut having earned a score of 73.89.

The ice dance competition kicks off during Friday's action at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue will be looking to make a positive start to their title defence.

Here is Friday's schedule:

               

Friday Schedule

11:45 a.m. ET: Junior free dance

3:45 p.m. ET: Rhythm dance

6:30 p.m. ET: Ladies free skate

                               

The event will be shown live on NBC. The full schedule for the competition can be found here.

                          

Friday Preview

Tennell may have topped the leaderboard on Thursday, but Liu was the story.

Seconds into her routine, she made history as she landed a triple axel, and her exuberant performance had the Detroit crowd on their feet:

The 2018 U.S. junior champion is not even eligible yet to compete internationally. But she announced herself at the national championships on Thursday as a potential future Olympic hopeful.

Liu will likely need a flawless performance in the free skate on Friday to overhaul Tennell, and she has two more triple axels planned for her routine.

At the very least, a podium place seems probable for the teenager, who will leave the Championships having made a big impression no matter what happens.

Tennell was under significant pressure to perform after Liu's routine on Thursday, and she rose to the occasion spectacularly:

A surprise winner last year when she beat Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen to claim the gold, Tennell is now the front-runner and it will be a shock if she is beaten to the title on Friday. 

Along with Tennell and Liu, Mariah Bell was the only other skater to score in the 70s on Thursday as she returned a 70.30.

Hubbell and Donohue are strong favourites in the ice dance competition and will be looking for a fast start to the competition in the rhythm dance on Friday.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the US perform in the Senior Ice Dance program at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2018-19 in Vancouver, British Columbia on December 8, 2018. (Photo by Don MacKinnon / AFP)        (Photo credit should read
DON MACKINNON/Getty Images

The pair now trains in Canada, but until 2015 they were based at the Detroit Skating Club, and Hubbell is from Lansing, Michigan. So this year's Championships should feel like something of a homecoming.

They have been on a fine run of form since winning their title at the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Hubbell and Donohue placed fourth at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea before claiming the silver medal at the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships. 

They are undefeated this season, most recently prevailing at the 2018 Grand Prix Final. 

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