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U.S. pairs’ changes for world figure skating championships team

Jessica Calalang, Brian Johnson

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 16: Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson skate in the Pairs Free Skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Orleans Arena on January 16, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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U.S. pairs’ figure skating silver medalists Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson withdrew from the world championships in three weeks for personal reasons unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.

They will be replaced by U.S. bronze medalists Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc at worlds in Stockholm.

U.S. champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, in their first season together, are set to compete if they were cleared by the International Skating Union upon video review of their programs.

Calalang and Johnson missed out on a worlds debut for a second consecutive year. They broke through with a silver medal at nationals in 2020, but last season’s world championships were among the first major international sporting events canceled due to the pandemic.

Cain-Gribble and LeDuc placed ninth at their previous worlds appearance in 2019, the year they won the national title.

If Olympic qualifying remains unchanged, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc and Knierim and Frazier’s results at worlds must add up to no more than 28 (13th and 15th, for example) for the U.S. to have two pairs’ entries in Beijing next year.

In 2018, the U.S. sent is smallest pairs’ contingent to the Winter Games -- one pair -- since the first edition in 1924 after its pairs placed 10th and 20th at 2017 Worlds.

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