US Figure Skating Championships 2020: Saturday TV Schedule, Top Contenders

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 25, 2020

USA's Nathan Chen performs during the Men Free Skating program on December 7, 2019 at the ISU Grand Prix of figure skating Final 2019 in Turin. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Nathan Chen is in action on Saturday at the 2020 United States Figure Skating Championship as he bids to defend his national title at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, North Carolina.

The reigning champion is the overwhelming favourite for gold in the men's event where victory will see him become the first man to win four consecutive national titles since Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen will kick off his campaign in the men's short program on Saturday, while in the pairs event, the free skate should provide plenty of excitement.


Saturday TV Schedule

Men's Short Program: 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC 

Free Dance and Pairs Free Skate: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN

The full television schedule is available here


Top Contenders

All eyes will be on three-time champion Chen on Saturday, who heads into the tournament in great form and unbeaten since a disappointing showing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The 20-year-old has since scooped two world titles, as well as two ISU Grand Prix Final victories, and has been in great form:

Chen is expected to continue his dominance of this event but said in the buildup he has not thought too much about the prospect of winning for a fourth straight year, per the Associated Press' Barry Wilner:

"I have never really thought about that. It's awesome to be able to be in a position for that to possibly happen. Of course, going to competitions you are driven by wanting to medal, wanting to, of course, stand on the top of the podium. But regardless, that is based on how results are scored and how the rest of the skaters do, and that is something that you can’t really control."

Vincent Zhou and Jason Brown, who finished second and third in 2019, will again provide competition. However, Chen looks to be head and shoulders above the chasing pack and is expected to clinch gold again.

Alexa and Chris Knierim lead the way in the pairs after a clean performance in the short program on Thursday.

The Knierims put in a superb showing to register a score of 77.06, putting them comfortably ahead of Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea in second place with 70.35:

U.S. Figure Skating @USFigureSkating

The definition of hype: @alexa_knierim Here 👏 for 👏 it 👏 https://t.co/fOsYksu5Wq

Defending champions Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc (68.86) lie in third ahead of the free skate, while Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson (67.56) came in fourth.

Alexa Knierim could not hide her delight at their display after finishing top of the pile, per Lynn Rutherford at NBC Sports.

"It was a dream that was attainable to skate the way we did today, but it always seems something gets in the way. I've just been wanting for this moment to happen, because it's been a little bit of time for Chris and I to have a skate that makes you feel, like, alive. I’m just so happy."

The pair were good value for their win on Thursday, scoring big with a triple twist, side-by-side triple toe loops and a throw triple lutz, to put them in an excellent position for Saturday's free skate.


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