Manu Fernandez/Associated Press
For one weekend in January, hockey won't be the center of attention at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, home of the NHL's Minnesota Wild. Instead, the arena will play host to the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, beginning on Friday, Jan. 15.
Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming championships.2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships: Event Schedule Event Date Time (ET) Pairs Short Program Thursday, Jan. 21 2:45 p.m. Ladies Short Program Thursday, Jan. 21 7:30 p.m. Short Dance Friday, Jan. 22 2:30 p.m. Men's Short Program Friday, Jan. 22 7:30 p.m. Pairs Free Skate Group 1 Saturday, Jan. 23 9 a.m. Free Dance Group 1 Saturday, Jan. 23 9 a.m. Pairs Free Skate Groups 2 & 3 Saturday, Jan. 23 1:30 p.m. Free Dance Groups 2 & 3 Saturday, Jan. 23 1:30 p.m. Ladies Free Skate Saturday, Jan. 23 6 p.m. Men's Free Skate Sunday, Jan. 24 1 p.m. Smucker's Skating Spectacular Sunday, Jan. 24 7 p.m.
For those that want to watch on TV, here is the viewing schedule. All sessions can be seen on NBC:
- Saturday, Jan. 23: 3-6 p.m. ET; 8-11 p.m.
- Sunday, Jan. 24: 4-6 p.m.
- Saturday, Jan. 30: 4-6 p.m.
The defending men's national champion, Jason Brown, will not be competing in this year's championships as he continues to nurse a back strain that he's been dealing with all season.
It was something that I can’t attribute to a particular jump, spin or element. It’s not something that’s acute. We’ve been monitoring it over time and it got to that point where it flared up and I couldn’t manage it anymore...Right now my main focus is getting healthy so I can be back on the ice. As soon as I’m at that 100-percent mark and doctors tell me I can go ahead and get on the ice, I will. And we’ll see what happens from there.
Their absences have allowed Max Aaron to become one of the competition's favorites. Aaron won the national championship in 2013.
On the women's side, fans don't have to look far to find this year's favorite. Ashley Wagner is already a three-time champion, winning all of her gold medals in the past four years. The only year in that spell she didn't win gold was in 2014, when she won pewter.