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PopWatch on Ice: Spiral sequence showdown in Spokane on Saturday night!

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The U.S. Figure Skating Championships continue this weekend on NBC, with coverage of the ladies and ice dancing competitions. The women laced up last night for their short programs. Going in to the free skate, which airs live Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET, 2008 U.S. champ Mirai Nagasu (pictured, right) now has a .43 lead over Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen (pictured, left), who’s making a comeback after four years away from competition. Both skated clean shorts, as did two-time U.S. silver medalist Rachael Flatt who sits in third place. Since I was forced to watch the programs on YouTube without Scott Hamilton’s commentary — NBC will air them Saturday afternoon during its live coverage of the Free Dance starting at 3 p.m. — here’s what I can tell you:

• No one, no matter how much she sells the footwork, needs to skate to “Sing, Sing, Sing.” But maybe that’s just how somehow who had to hear it at every dance recital ever feels. Watch Rachael Flatt’s short program here.

• Sasha Cohen’s costumes are still to die for. The beauty of her dramatic red ensemble was almost too distracting during her performance to “España Cañi.” The detail on the lace, sequined bodice, the way the skirt moved during her spiral and footwork sequences — I felt the envy of 20 drag queens. Can’t wait to see what she dons for the free skate. Here’s hoping she’s also wearing her Fierce Face. Best in the sport.

•  I would give the edge in the spiral sequence to Cohen, but Nagasu’s flexibility is just as impressive. (Like Cohen, she ended her performance to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack with an I-9 spin. That’s when you pull a straight leg up by your head.) The layback on her spread eagle was breathtaking, as was her toe-point in her sit spin and the soft landing on her jumps. She was confident throughout. But you never know what can happen in the longer free skate…

Below, your weekend figure skating schedule on NBC. Come back to PopWatch on Monday when we review the ladies and ice dancing teams who will join the U.S. men’s and pairs teams in Vancouver. Who are you rooting for?

Saturday, Jan. 23, 3-6 p.m. ET: Free Dance (Live), Ladies Short

Saturday, Jan. 23, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT: Ladies Free Skate (Live)

Sunday, Jan. 24, 4-6 p.m. ET: Recap of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Sunday, Jan. 24, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT: Exhibition of Champions and announcement of U.S. Olympic Team

Photo credit: Cohen and Nagasu: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images (2)