FIGURE SKATING Preview: Is it skating season already? Skate America starts today!

It seems too soon for the ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix season to be underway, but the first of the six Grand Prix events opens with Skate America, at the 10,000-seat Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington (USA).

The Grand Prix series is the ISU’s highest level of “regular season” competition, with the top skaters invited and pre-assigned to not more than two of the competitions (see the assignments here).

In this post-Olympic year, many of the top stars are taking time off, or skating a light schedule, so the top stars expected in Everett include:

∙ Nathan Chen (USA) ~ 2018 World Champion; fifth at PyeongChang ‘18
∙ Vincent Zhou (USA) ~ 2017 World Junior Champion; sixth at PyeongChang ‘18
∙ Alexei Bychenko (ISR) ~ Fourth at the 2018 World Champs; 11th at PyeongChang ‘18

∙ Bradie Tennell (USA) ~ 2018 U.S. Champion; ninth at PyeongChang ‘18
∙ Satoko Miyahara (JPN) ~ 2018 Worlds bronze medalist; fourth at PyeongChang ‘18
∙ Marin Honda (JPN) ~ 2016 World Junior Champion
∙ Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) ~ 2018 Four Continents Champion; sixth at PyeongChang ‘18

∙ Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) ~ 2018 World Champs silvers; 4th at OWG ‘18
∙ Alexa Scimera Knierem/Chris Knierim (USA) ~ 2018 U.S. Champions
∙ Ashley Cain/Timothy Leduc (USA) ~ Two wins in the 2018 ISU Challenger Series

Ice Dance:
∙ Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) ~ 2018 Worlds silvers; 4th at OWG ‘18
∙ Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter (USA) ~ 2016 World Junior Champions
∙ Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri (ITA) ~ 10th at PyeongChang ‘18

Two of the four winners from 2017 return: Chen won the men’s Singles event by nine points at 275.88, and Miyahara won both the Short Program and Free Skate to win ahead of Sakamoto, Tennell and Russia’s Polina Tsurskaya in the women’s competition.

There is good prize money at this event: $18,000-13,000-9,000-3,000-2,000 for the top five placers in both the individual and pairs/dance events.

NBCSN has coverage of Skate America at 6 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, on NBC on Sunday at 12:30 Eastern and the Ladies’ Free Skate on NBCSN at 4 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. Look for results here.

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