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ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2019: Dates, TV and Live-Stream Schedule

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIMarch 19, 2019

TOPSHOT - Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan performs his routine in the men's short program at the Rostelecom Cup 2018 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Moscow on November 16, 2018. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP)        (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
YURI KADOBNOV/Getty Images

The 2019 ISU World Figure Skating Championships open on Wednesday, with some of the top names in the sport set to compete in Saitama, Japan.

The highlight of the tournament looks to be in the men's event, where Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu will come up against world champion Nathan Chen.

There will be a new champion in the women's competition, as Canadian titleholder Kaetlyn Osmond has opted to sit out the entire season.

Olympic champion Alina Zagitova will be aiming to improve on last season's fifth-placed finish, while Japan's Rika Kihira and two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva are also in contention.

Here's a look at the schedule, full details are available from the tournament's official website.

             

Wednesday, March 20

Pairs: Short Programme 

Opening Ceremony

Ladies: Short Programme

        

Thursday, March 21

Pairs: Free Skating

Men: Short Programme

     

Friday, March 22

Ice Dance: Rhythm Dance 

Ladies: Free Skating

     

Saturday, March 23

Ice Dance: Free Dance 

Men: Free Skating

     

Sunday, March 24

Gala Exhibition

    

In the United States, the event will be televised by NBC and NBCSN. A live stream is available through NBCSports.com/live.

           

Preview

Japan's Hanyu will be aiming for his third world title in Saitama, but there are doubts over his fitness heading into the tournament.

The 24-year-old skipped practice on Monday amid fears he is still struggling with an ankle injury picked up at November's Rostelecom Cup, per the Olympic Channel.

Hanyu has not competed since then, but he also struggled with a similar problem before the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and went on to take gold:

Olympics @Olympics

Winter #Olympics #Gold for Yuzuru Hanyu as he successfully defends his title in men's #FigureSkating with a combined total score of 317.85 points. 😱 👏👏👏 Congratulations! #JPN #PyeongChang2018 https://t.co/6voVv3rd4O

He will face stiff competition from Chen, a Yale University freshman, who won his third straight national men's singles title in Detroit in January:

U.S. Figure Skating @USFigureSkating

What. A. Podium. 👏🙇‍♀️🙇‍♂️ THREE-time U.S. champion @nathanwchen leads the final podium at #USChamps19! https://t.co/7XqG1QDhyu

The 19-year-old will be aiming to defend his title and has had to overcome illness during his preparation that forced him to amend his training plans.

"I got a little bit sick so I decided to recover (in New Haven) and make sure I didn't get any of the other athletes sick," he said, per Reuters (h/t Eurosport). "The entire college got sick, so it was inevitable. I've been training well for worlds. I'm looking forward to competition."

Japan's Shoma Uno is also one to watch in the men's event. The 21-year-old produced a flawless free skate to win the Four Continents Championships in Anaheim, California, in February.

It's the biggest win of his career, although his silver medal in Pyeongchang shows he can thrive on the big stage:

Olympic Channel @olympicchannel

Will we ever see a figure skater ⛸️ land a quintuple jump? Watch episode one of 'Is It Possible?', featuring Shoma Uno 🇯🇵: https://t.co/FPy10qwL7D #StartYourImpossible @ToyotaMotorCorp #WorldFigure https://t.co/3nd4ykuJAU

The competition looks far more open in the women's event, where Zagitova will be out to make amends for her 2018 showing. The teenager finished fifth after falling three times in her free skate.

The 16-year-old will face competition from rising star Kihira, who will be looking for her first world title. 

The Japanese starlet, also 16, will be confident after victories at the Four Continents and the Grand Prix Final:

ISU Figure Skating @ISU_Figure

📹 It was an eventful Ladies’ Free Skating at #4ContsFigure with the standings turning upside down! Rika Kihira, Elizabet Tursynbaeva and Mai Mihara skated to the top of the podium in the tight contest for the lead in a deep field! 🔗 https://t.co/hEsXpkE3Ai #⃣ #FigureSkating https://t.co/yfdShNgmoF

Kihira has talked confidently about her chances in the tournament but has explained that nerves could be a factor, per Sean Miyaguchi at Kyodo News:

"It's my first world championships, and it's at such a big arena, so I might feel a little nervous. (But) I'm not really thinking about the pressure, I'm just focusing on what I have to do.

"I think I have a chance of winning the championship if I perform the short program and the free routine well, so I just want to think about doing a performance with no mistakes."

Medvedeva is also likely to be in contention and has momentum after victory in the Russian Cup in February. The 19-year-old has struggled this season but knows exactly what it takes to win this title and can't be discounted.