Greensboro, North Carolina, plays host to the 2020 U.S. Championships, Jan. 20-26. The senior competition begins Jan. 23 with the pairs short program. This competition takes place the same week as the 2020 European Championships.
The U.S. has three spots for men at the 2020 World Championships, but who will join Nathan Chen in Montréal is an unknown factor at this point. Jason Brown, the only other U.S. man to claim a medal on the 2019 Grand Prix circuit this season, is one of the most likely candidates. Vincent Zhou announced on Jan. 2 that he is taking a gap year from Brown University and will compete at these Championships. This will be his first competition of the 2019-2020 season. Zhou has also made a coaching change and is now training with Lee Barkell in Toronto.
In a conference call on Jan. 17, Chen advised he had been suffering from a cold that he could not shake until about two weeks ago. He reported that he is feeling close to 100 percent again, but it affected his preparation for Greensboro. ″Trying to push myself is not really the goal here,″ he said, adding he will regroup after nationals and focus on the second half of the season. He has not been training quad loops, so that jump will not be in either of his programs. When asked if any of his usual quads would be out of the question, he said, ″likely the Lutz, but that is TBD. I′ll be applying the same rules to this competition as all the others. I don′t want to put any unnecessary strain on my body — I′m not ready for that. So Raf and I will discuss it next week, and decide what I will go with. Every competition means a lot to me, but right now I am just trying to get my job done. I will use the time pre-nationals to be as ready as possible.″
Two World berths are available in the ladies discipline. Those will most likely go to Bradie Tennell and Mariah Bell. Alysa Liu will not be age eligible for senior Worlds until the 2021-2022 season, and will be assigned to the World Junior Championships no matter where she places. Karen Chen has an outside shot at earning a place on the World team. Gracie Gold is on the roster after not competing for three seasons, but the scores she earned at the qualifying event are not competitive with the top 10 ladies in the World.
A ninth-place finish by Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc at the 2019 World Championships secured two spots for pairs in 2020. The battle for those two places will be between Cain-Gribble and LeDuc, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, and Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea.
Three ice dance teams will head to Montréal, but which one will lead the way? We are expecting a battle between Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates for the top step of the podium in Greensboro. Two other teams are realistically in the running for the one remaining place: Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker and Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko.
The U.S. Championships is the final qualifying competition to earn a place on the teams for 2020 Four Continents and/or Worlds. The team for the World Junior Championships will be named next week following the conclusion of the World Junior Selection Camp, set for Jan. 27-29 in Indian Trail, North Carolina.
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