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There Should Be Plenty of Ice Escapades for All

It’s going to be cold.

The playing surface will be frozen.

The aging veteran will suit up one more time, drawing energy from countless fans pulling for one more championship run, trying again to stave off another wave of younger challengers.

A couple of old pros will be in the television booth, analyzing every move.

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Lisa Guerrero will be on the sidelines, toting a microphone.

But enough about the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on ABC.

This weekend, going head-to-head with sequined pixies and matadors on skates, Fox and CBS have football games to cover. And in TV rooms across America, the never-ending battle of the sexes will entail fierce struggles for control of the remote controls.

Round 1: Today, it’s the Carolina Panthers and the St. Louis Rams (Fox, 1:30 p.m.) against the men’s figure skating final (ABC, 1 p.m.). Story lines: Important competitions proceed with former champions Kurt Warner and Timothy Goebel on the sidelines.

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Viewers’ choice: Do you watch the Panthers, championship dark horses, on St. Louis turf as slick as ice ... or Johnny Weir, championship dark horse, on ice as slick as St. Louis turf?

Round 2: Sunday, it’s the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles (Fox, 1:45 p.m.) against the figure skating medalists’ exhibition performance (ABC, 3 p.m.) Story lines: By the end of the day, we will know whether crowd favorites Brett Favre and Michelle Kwan have been able to turn back Father Time.

Viewers’ choice: Do you watch the old veteran as he tries to elude overstuffed defensive linemen all over the field ... or do you watch the old veteran as she tries to elude stuffed toy animals all over the ice?

Football and figure skating have more in common than either would like to admit. In both activities, participants dress up in brightly colored costumes and impersonate a wide range of characters, from Revolutionary War patriots to patriotic eagles, from predatory panthers to mythical Titans.

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(At last year’s Super Bowl, the age-old figure-skating staple -- the swashbuckling pirate motif -- was very popular.)

Hard-core football fans will argue that their sport is a more manly pursuit than figure skating, but, really, when was the last time you saw a male figure skater shake cheerleader pompoms, copy a Beyonce Knowles dance move or make a fake cell-phone call to celebrate the successful landing of a quadruple jump?

Football and figure skating also share Guerrero, who moves from the “Monday Night Football” sidelines to the kiss-and-cry area for the skating championships, a good assignment for her, one that plays to her reportorial strengths.

Locally, the Tennessee-New England playoff game (CBS, 5:15 p.m.) and the women’s figure skating final (ABC, 8 p.m.) won’t overlap much because KABC is airing the figure skating delayed.

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Both events probably will involve icy conditions, but give skating this edge: At least it has the decency to hold it indoors.

The viewing weekend at a glance:

TODAY

* Carolina Panthers at St. Louis Rams

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(Channel 11, 1:30 p.m.)

This game has the look of a bettor’s nightmare, as Pete Rose may have noticed. (This just in: betwwts.com lists Rose as a 4-1 longshot to be voted into the Hall of Fame someday. That has to be the stat of the week.) The Rams are favored by 7 points and have a 14-game home winning streak, but they also led the league in turnovers.

Fox’s pregame show will include a sit-down with Ram Coach Mike Martz, Ram quarterback Marc Bulger and former Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw. For the sake of millions watching out there, can Bradshaw please remind them to hang onto the ball?

* Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots

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(Channel 2, 5:15 p.m.)

What is the best treatment for ankle sprains and calf-muscle strains, heat or ice? Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair is getting ice, whether he likes it or not.

* U.S. Figure Skating Championships

(Channel 7, 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.)

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ABC’s coverage will include a taped feature in which Karl Malone sits with Kwan and gives the perennial Olympic bridesmaid career advice. And what might that be? Move to a different city? Kwan has done that. Get a new coach? She tried that too. Skate until you’re 40? Hey, whatever it takes.

* Stanford at Arizona

(Fox Sports Net, 3:30 p.m.)

Arizona’s basketball team is 10-1 and ranked third in the nation. Stanford is 12-0 and ranked fourth. In basketball, anyway, USC’s strength of schedule looks pretty good.

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* UCLA at Washington

(Fox Sports Net 2, 7:30 p.m.)

The bowl games are over, the Trojans have had the trophy celebration, the Bruins are 3-0 in Pac-10 basketball games and it has been hours since anyone criticized Karl Dorrell on the air. Good times in Westwood, good times.

SUNDAY

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* Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

(Channel 2, 10 a.m.)

Earlier this week on nfl.com, CBS commentator Phil Simms second-guessed himself for underplaying Peyton Manning’s five-touchdown-pass performance in his first postseason victory last weekend. “As broadcasters, we always try to be fair and spread [the praise] out,” he said. “But I probably did not give justice to the game he had, to the season he’s had and to the career he’s had.”

Now Dan Dierdorf gets his chance. Unless, of course, Manning loses to the Chiefs.

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* Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles

(Channel 11, 1:45 p.m.)

For this game, Fox plans to roll out something it calls “Mega Super Slo Mo,” a camera that captures 7,000 frames per second, as opposed to 90 frames per second for regular “super slow motion.” This will enable home viewers to study the compression of the football when it is punted, the impact of bodies colliding on the field and, if so ordered, the intense chattering of the teeth of Eagle fans sitting in the stands.


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