2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships: Mariah Bell And More

2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Mariah Bell
Jay Adeff / U.S. Figure Skating

Yes, another U.S. Figure Skating Championships is almost upon us. Last year, I experienced one of the highlights of my life by attending 2020’s competition in-person. I am beyond lucky to have been in the crowd when Olympian Gracie Gold made her comeback, Alysa Liu defended her U.S. National title, and Mariah Bell brought the audience to their feet with a mesmerizing free program to “Hallelujah.”

Bell’s program was a standout moment that could not get captured by television cameras. Mariah Bell stirred the crowd to their feet before her performance had even finished. She left some in tears and everyone else in awe. The veteran skater turned in what was arguably the most outstanding performance of her career, and to have witnessed it first-hand was an incredible gift. 

Mariah Bell will be back with a “Mamma Mia” fueled free program for the 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. As someone who absolutely loved both movies, I can tell you this will be another much-anticipated performance from Bell. It will be interesting to see if Mariah Bell can recapture the magic of last year’s “Hallelujah” performance in front of cardboard cutouts. If anyone can, it is her.

No Live Crowd

Unfortunately, fans will not get a chance to experience such a moment live this year. Last year’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships marked the first time I had attended a skating competition (rather than a show) in-person. Usually, I take a front-row seat on my couch. This year, figure skating fans will not get a chance to experience the fortune of attending in-person thanks to the nearly year-long disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic on life. 

So, instead of performing in front of a live crowd, skaters will have to compete in front of cardboard cutouts. The U.S. team rallied to the occasion in late 2020 with the Grand Prix event, Skate America. Not competing at that event were inspiring ice dance champs, Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Chock and Bates decided to skip most of the 2020-2021 season before U.S. Nationals.

Ice Dance Heats Up

Madison Chock and Evan Bates will be back on the ice for the first time in the 2020-2021 season at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Last year, I got to watch them win over the crowd and the judges with their bedazzling serpentine free dance, which brought them the gold medal. Chock and Bates’ victorious execution of their program was another moment that reached beyond the screen. 

Cut to 2021, and their training-mates -- Madison Hubbell and Zach Donahue -- will see if they can win back the U.S. National title. Jean-Luc Baker and Kaitlin Hawayek, who electrified last year’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships with a Bee Gees short dance, will also be competing. To say it is going to be a great competition would be an understatement. 

Until Next Year?

Notwithstanding the pandemic, this year’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships are geographically out of reach for me. I would enthusiastically urge anyone who gets a chance to attend future competitions to do it. There is nothing like a live crowd, and figure skaters deserve them. After all, careers do not last forever.

Hopefully, figure skating will not have to endure performing in front of a non-living crowd for too much longer. When it is safe again, skating should be able to return to normal. Until then, fans will get to watch four-time U.S. National champion Nathan Chen and others wow the world. 

How To Watch

The 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships will air live on NBCSN with the pairs short at 6 p.m. ET. The Ladies Free will kick off NBC’s live coverage on Friday, January 15 at 8 p.m. ET. NBC Universal’s streaming platform, Peacock, will also be carrying coverage with Peacock Premium. You can get the complete schedule on U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone’s website here. (Note: You will have to scroll down to January 14.)