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Even people who have watched nothing during these Olympics might turn on NBC tonight to see the ladies' figure skating gold medal final. Going into the free skate, American Sasha Cohen leads Russian Irina Slutskaya, the favorite, by the slimmest of margins.

The youngest U.S. Olympian, 16-year-old Kimmie Meissner, is in fifth place and will join Cohen and Slutskaya. Teammate Emily Hughes - sister of 2002 gold medalist Sarah - is in seventh.

It's likely to be a compelling night, but don't say you weren't warned: NBC's primetime coverage runs until midnight, and there's a very good chance the network will drag out the skating until the end.

Also on the schedule is the men's freestyle aerial skiing gold medal final, which will include American Jeret "Speedy" Peterson.

- SHARON GINN, Times correspondent

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