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This weekend on the Road to PyeongChang: Winter Olympic sports kick into high gear

John Shuster
USA TODAY Sports

This weekend on the Road to PyeongChang: Winter Olympic sports kick into high gear

U.S. Olympic Curling Trials highlight the best in Winter Olympic sports from Nov. 10-12 on the path to the 2018 Games

Figure skating: Grand Prix series moves to NHK Trophy in Japan

Now that figure skating’s Grand Prix is halfway through the series, the fourth stop on the circuit moves to Japan. The reigning world champions in every discipline are slated to compete in Osaka, the host of NHK Trophy. A full preview is here.

Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning world and Olympic champion, fell during Thursday’s practice session and subsequently withdrew from the men’s event. Because of this, he’ll be out of the Grand Prix Final in December as well. Three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada, who took silver behind Hanyu at the Sochi Olympics, withdrew last week and will not compete in Osaka.

The U.S.’ Jason Brown can clinch a spot in the exclusive Grand Prix Final this weekend, and teammate Adam Rippon returns to competition after sitting out the second half of last season with a broken foot. After Friday’s short program, Brown is in third place and Rippon is sitting in fourth behind Russia’s Sergei Voronov in first and Israel’s Alexei Bychenko in second.

Russia’s Yevgenia Medvedeva, undefeated in individual competition since November 2015, headlines the ladies field. Sochi bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy is also in the field. Japan’s own Satoko Miyahara, competes for the first time in nearly a year; she was sidelined with a fractured hip. The U.S. team features 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu and 2017 U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

After Friday’s short program, Medvedeva leads both Kostner and Tsurskaya, who are second and third, respectively. Nagasu is currently fifth and Bell is ninth.

Who is Yevgenia Medvedeva?

Get to know Russian figure skater Yevgenia Medvedeva and her major accomplishments before she competes at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

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Competing just one week after their victory at the Grand Prix Cup of China, Sui Wenjing and Han Cong from China are back again in the pairs field. This time, they face Russians Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, the 2014 Olympic silver medalists. The lone U.S. pair is married couple Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim.

Sui and Han lead the pairs field after Friday’s short program, followed by Stolbova and Klimov. Another Russian pair, Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov, are in third. The Knierims are in fourth.

Who are Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim?

Get to know figure skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim and their major accomplishments before they compete at the 2018 Olympics

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The ice dance field is led by three-time Olympic medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada. Already this season, they’ve traded the highest scores ever recorded in ice dance with French training partners Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (not competing this weekend). The Canadians face U.S. duo Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who they also train with.

Who are Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir?

Get to know Canadian figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and their major accomplishments before they compete at the 2018 Olympics

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Schedule (all times Eastern):

Friday, Nov. 10:

  • Pairs short program: 12:30 a.m.
  • Ladies short program: 2 a.m.
  • Men’s short program: 5 a.m.
  • Ice dance short dance: 11 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 11:

  • Pairs free skate: 12:30 a.m.
  • Ladies free skate: 3 a.m.
  • Men’s free skate: 5:30 a.m.
  • Ice dance free dance: 10 p.m.

Mikaela Shiffrin races first slalom of Olympic season

2014 Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin will compete in her signature discipline for the first time this season in Levi, Finland on Saturday at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch Shiffrin's race on Saturday here. Shiffrin has finished on the podium during three of her four slalom races in Levi, including victories in 2013 and 2016. This will be the second race of the 2017-18 World Cup season for Shiffrin, who finished fifth in a giant slalom on Oct. 28.

The men’s slalom will take place on Sunday at 7 a.m. ET on the Olympic Channel. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, who won the race in 2016, has indicated he would race on Sunday, despite recovering from a broken ankle in pre-season training.

Watch the men's slalom here on Sunday.

Curling: U.S. Olympic Team Trials

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for curling, which will determine the men’s and women’s teams that will represent the U.S. at the 2018 PyeongChangs, begin this weekend in Omaha, Nebraska. Competition begins on Saturday with the first of five days of round-robin matches. Five men’s teams and three women’s teams are competing; each men’s team will play every other men’s team twice, while each women’s team will play every other women’s team three times.

The top-seeded teams are the men’s rink skipped by John Shuster, already a three-time Olympian and an Olympic bronze medalist, and the women’s team skipped by Nina Roth, who led her squad to a fifth-place finish at the 2017 World Championships.

After the round-robin stage concludes on Wednesday, Nov. 15, the playoffs will begin on Thursday, Nov. 16. All competition sessions can be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. 

How to watch the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials

Watch live as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for men's and women's curling start on Saturday, Nov. 11

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Meet the teams competing at U.S. Olympic Curling Trials

From the Olympic medalists to the junior champions, learn more about the curlers set to compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials

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Short Track: Shanghai World Cup

Short track’s World Cup season continues this weekend with the third of four competitions, held in Shanghai, China and running from Thursday to Sunday.  The two 2017 overall world champions, Great Britain’s Elise Christie and South Korea’s Seo Yi-Ra, will be competing, as well as eight-time Olympic medalist Viktor Ahn of Russia. The biggest names on the 12-person U.S. team are J.R. Celski and Katherine Reutter-Adamek, both of which won Olympic medals  at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Celski also won a relay silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Who is Katherine Reutter-Adamek

Short track skater Katherine Reutter-Adamek is making a comeback after retiring at age 24

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Speed skating: Heerenveen World Cup

The speed skating season kicks off this weekend with the first of four World Cup competitions to be held this fall. These events, which will take place in November and December 2017, will help determine how many quota spots each country earns for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. Running from Friday to Sunday, the first World Cup is held in the speed skating hotbed of Heerenveen, Netherlands.

The U.S. squad will be led by four-time Olympic medalist Shani Davis and mass start world champion Joey Mantia, as well as two world record holders on the women’s side: Heather Bergsma, the world’s fastest in the 1500m, and Brittany Bowe, current holder of the 1000m record. Bergsma currently lives in the Netherlands with her husband, Olympic speed skating champion Jorrit Bergsma, who will be competing for the Dutch in Heerenveen. Bowe is returning to the World Cup circuit after missing most of last season due a concussion.

Meet the U.S. Speed Skating team for the fall World Cup series

What to know about the 15 U.S. speed skaters who will compete in the pre-Olympic World Cup events

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Snowboard big air: Season kicks off in Milan

This weekend will feature the first snowboard big air contest of the season. With the event making its Olympic debut in PyeongChang, Saturday's World Cup stop in Milan could provide an early glimpse of what to expect, particularly on the women's side.

Among the headliners in the women's field is Anna Gasser. The 26-year-old Austrian is coming off a monster season in which she landed on the podium at nearly every single contest she entered. After winning World Snowboard Tour titles in both big air and slopestyle last season, she's the early favorite in both disciplines this year. But in her first test of the new season, some of her toughest competition will likely come from up-and-coming American rider Julia Marino. It appears that double corks will be the key to victory this year, so keep an eye on this contest to see who has added doubles —or even just a new variation of the double cork — to their bag of tricks since last season.

On the men's side, many of the heavy hitters are sitting this contest out. That could provide an opportunity for some new faces to reach the podium. Kyle Mack, Red Gerard, Chris Corning and Ryan Stassel are among the top American entrants in the field.

The finals kick off at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it live on the Olympic Channel, or stream it live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Who is Anna Gasser?

On the heels of a breakout season, this Austrian snowboarder is one to watch in women's slopestyle and big air

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Who is Julia Marino?

Following a quick rise up the ranks, Team USA's emerging snowboarder is eyeing her Olympic debut

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Hockey: U.S., Canada men and women get game experience ahead of Olympics

Hockey’s international super powers are on the ice this weekend across two continents. The men’s and women’s teams for both the United States and Canada are at various stages of preparation as they look ahead to the Olympics in PyeongChang.

Here at home, the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team continues their 2017 Four Nations Cup campaign in Wesley Chapel, Florida. The U.S. opened up against Finland on Tuesday, posting an 8-2 win.

On Wednesday the U.S. took on Canada for the third time since late October, beating their rivals 4-2. The Stars and Stripes now lead the pre-Olympic series by one game, 2-1, with both teams expected to meet again in the final at Four Nations. 

Play resumes on Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. ET with Canada playing Finland and the U.S. taking on Sweden. Third place and championship games for the Four Nations Cup are scheduled for noon and 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 12.

Across the Atlantic in Augsburg, Germany, USA Hockey offers fans a first look at the NHL-free U.S. Men’s National Team in their first and only pre-Olympic tune-up tournament. Playing in the Deutschland Cup, the U.S. is led by team captain Brian Gionta, who last season wore the “C” in Buffalo for the Sabres in his 15th season in the league. Gionta playing in all 82 games for the Sabres in 2016-17 while putting up 35 points (15 goals, 25 assists). Team USA will play Slovakia (Friday, 10:00 a.m. ET), Russia (Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET) and Germany (Sunday, 10:45 a.m. ET) during the three day event.

Also facing the same Olympic obstacle of absent NHL stars, Team Canada continues to test their team identity, this time in Finland at the 2017 Karjala Cup. Canada’s roster features 16 KHL professionals, including goalie Ben Scrivens, who has a resume which includes action in 144 games with four NHL teams. With Scrivens in goal, the Canadians beat Switzerland, 3-2, in their Karjala Cup opener. Canada plays Sweden on Friday, November 10 at 11:30 a.m. ET and finishes with a game against Finland on Sunday, November 12 at 10:30 a.m. ET in the round robin event.

The 2018 Olympic rosters for the U.S. men, women and Paralympic sled hockey team will be announced at the NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. NBC will broadcast the game beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.

What you need to know for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games

Click on a sport and get ready for PyeongChang

Alpine skiing | Biathlon | Bobsled | Cross-country | Curling | Figure skating | Freestyle skiing | Hockey | Luge | Nordic combined | Short track | Skeleton | Ski jumping | Snowboard | Speed skating

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