2018 Winter Olympics: Figure Skating News
Team Canada dominated the Team Event in Figure Skating throughout the competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, winning the gold after placing second at Sochi in 2014. The Olympic Athletes from Russia and the United States maintained second and third, respectively, to earn the silver and bronze.
Canada (73 points)
Patrick Chan had a strong start in his routine to “Hallelujah,” landing a quad toe-triple toe and a solo quad toe, however, he then doubled and stepped out of a triple Axel and fell on the next one. The 2014 Olympic silver medalist also touched down on a triple loop, but otherwise showed strong spins and footwork. He earned 179.75 (87.67/93.08) for a first-place finish in the men’s event.
“Luckily, I had those two days off between the short and the long,” said Chan of rebounding from a subpar short program. “That’s the great part about the (athletes’) Village. You’re constantly surrounded by positive energy from athletes inside figure skating and out. It just made me comfortable that I had the support of my entire team. Whatever happens today, good or bad, doesn’t matter, because they’re still going to be there for me.”
The 27-year-old said the difference between the team event for 2018 compared to 2014 is determination.
“We saw the potential we had in Sochi and didn’t capitalize on it,” said the skater from Toronto. “This time we really want to nail it into the coffin and win this thing. It’s such an exhilarating feeling because we’re such a tight-knit team, and we’ve been from the same generation, so we want to win this medal for all of us.”
Gabrielle Daleman attacked her program, landing a total of six clean triple jumps. The only flaw was an under-rotated triple loop, and the 2017 World bronze medalist displayed strong level 4 spins and footwork. She was awarded 137.14 (68.86/68.28) for her exuberant routine to “Rhapsody in Blue” for third place.
“I feel great!” said the 20-year-old. “At the end of the day, there are still some little things that could be better, but I have another chance in a week and a half. But overall, I am very ecstatic and very happy with what I did today. I didn’t feel any pressure. I felt more nervous, especially because I didn’t want to let my team down. I am very happy with what I did.”
“This is the biggest thing I could ever imagine,” she said of the experience on Olympic ice. “Getting out there and having that moment is something I have always dreamed of. And getting to do this again in a week or so is truly amazing. Especially after all I have been through, it means that much more.”
The three-time Canadian champion said this experience compared to that of Sochi 2014 is “super different.”
“The first time I was here, I was there for the experience, but now I am here in PyeongChang as a competitor and here to play. It was just so different then, the age and maturity-wise. I am just so honored I got to represent Canada in this team event. We have such a great strong team and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir didn’t disappoint in their magnetic routine to music from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. The 2010 Olympic gold medalists were sharp, earning boatloads of positive grades of execution (GOE) for all elements. The team impressed with their level 4 lifts, perfect synchronized twizzles, and strong level 3 footwork.
“We’re obviously thrilled to be Olympic team champions,” said Moir. “We’re really proud of ourselves because we weren’t happy with our approach in Sochi. We felt we were too casual and were using it more as a simulation. Tessa and I and Eric (Radford) came home with a sour taste in our mouths. We had a chance at Olympic gold and we were a little too casual about it. We set a plan, a four-year plan, Tessa and I were in hiding for a couple of years.”
“We wanted to win the team event in 2018 and we believed in ourselves and we talked about it as a team,” he added. “We wanted to make sure we got this gold. As Canadians, we were born on the ice. We think we’re the best in the world. Winning this event is like winning hockey and curling and it’s very similar in our country. We’re glad that we took it seriously and came out on top against two very, very good teams.”
“It’s an interesting question because, taking the ice today, we knew that the rest of our teammates had already sealed the deal,” said Virtue. “Our free dance wasn’t a huge contributing factor, but we wanted to be an integral part of the team. Skating past the team box and feeling the support from our teammates, you don’t want to let your teammates down. Most of these teammates we’ve grown up with, sort of come up the ranks in our careers together, and it’s wonderful to share that. We’re so proud of each one of our teammates. What a thrill!”
Standing on the podium and hearing the anthem was probably one of the most incredible experiences Eric Radford has had, however, along the way, some of his favorite moments in the whole event were just small moments that they shared as a group.
“For example, just before they called Meagan and my name before we competed, I just glanced over at Scott and we just made eye contact and we just gave each other a little nod,” he said. “And it is those little, quiet unspoken moments that really means the most.”
“I am for the spoken moments, so yay!” said partner Meagan Duhamel. “I go with what everybody else said. We are so honored to be part of this team, to be part of this generation of skating in Canada. I think It’s the greatest group of skaters, not just us, but all the figure skaters on the Canadian team here, and we owe everybody a big thank you for the support they gave us.”
Olympic Athletes from Russia (66)
Mikhail Kolyada struggled in his Elvis Presley routine, sitting down on his opening quad Lutz and under-rotating and two-footing the landing of his next jump—the quad toe. The 22-year-old still managed a quad toe later in the program, albeit a tight landing. He otherwise showed two strong triple Axels and earned level 4 on two of his spins and footwork to finish second with 173.57 (88.35/86.22) points.
Alina Zagitova dazzled with a flawless routine to Don Quixote which featured seven clean triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-triple loop combination. The 15-year-old was awarded level 4 for all other elements as well as two perfect 10s for performance and interpretation to finish first with a personal best of 158.08 (83.06/75.02).
“I would give myself a four plus (out of five),’ said the you skater from Moscow. “There were some imperfections, but they are easy to fix. We’ll work on that. I felt a little tense and the program could have been more expressive. I was very nervous because I wanted to skate well, and I did.”
Being at the Olympics is still sinking in for the 2018 European champion who has remained undefeated all season.
“Honestly, I only realized last night that I am at the Olympic Games,” said the skater who trains under Eteri Tutberidze and Sergei Dudakov. “I was thinking ‘The Olympic Games – it is already tomorrow.’ I got up in the morning and realized that I have to skate well and not let the team down and do the maximum. There was more pressure. In the team event you are not only responsible for yourself, but for the whole team and the overall result. In the individual event you skate for yourself. It is another experience for me.”
Zagitova will return to Niigata, Japan for three to four days to train before returning to Pyeongchang.
“Psychologically, I need to stay calm and go out like for any other competition,” she said of the individual events. My goal is to enjoy skating and do my best.”
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev were smooth in their routine to “Oblivion” and “Beethoven’s Five Secrets,” which was highlighted by level 4 lifts and twizzles. The 2018 European silver medalists also impressed with strong level 3 circular and diagonal steps. They finished third with 110.43 (54.72/55.71) points.
“We are very happy that we got such a team,” said Soloviev. “We could have fought for the gold, but unfortunately not everything worked out. But we are happy to be here, and we fight for our country. The first part of the figure skating (event) was very emotional and I think it will only become better for each of us and for those that didn’t compete yet.”
“The most important thing is that we are one team,” added Bobrova. “If for someone something didn’t work out, we always supported each other. When the kids skated, the palms were sweaty, and we shouted. It is not important that the individual event is still to come, we all gave everything we had in this competition.”
“Right now we are very happy about the victories and skating at the Olympics,” she continued. “In our country in the night an airplane crashed and 71 people died, as the team captain I want to express the deepest sympathy of the athletes, coaches and the whole delegation to the victims and their families of this catastrophe. This is a huge grief for your country. Knowing about this tragedy, we just went out on the ice to do the best we possibly can. We are grieving for the victims.”
United States (62 points)
Adam Rippon played it safe in his quadless Free Skate to “Arrival of the Birds” and “O,” however, it was no less captivating. The 28-year-old was focused and mesmerized the audience with his artistry and level 4 spins and footwork. He landed a total of seven triple jumps to earn 172.98 (86.20/86.78) points for third place.
“I worked so hard for this moment,” said Rippon. “I still have another week of competition to go, but to have that moment and my family is here and I have friends watching at home. To be able to do it in front of them who have supported me and have been with me on this long road that has been up and down is absolutely incredible. I am really excited I was able to get the competition off to a good start. I am feeling good, I am feeling ready.”
“This is my opportunity to just get my feet under me on Olympic ice but, more than that, it’s to help get team USA that medal,” said the skater who trains under Rafael Arutyunyan, Vera Arutyunyan, and Nadia Kanaeva in Calif. “I want to be one of the first medals here at the Games. We have a great team. I am so proud to be on this team. I went out there and did my job.”
The road to the Olympics has been a long one for the veteran skater.
“It kind of throws me back to six years ago,” said the 2016 U.S. champion. “I took a chance. I moved to Los Angeles to train with Rafael Arutyunyan. I had no money. I lived in his basement. I had enough money to be a member of the gym, so I stole all the apples in the gym, because sometimes I couldn’t afford groceries. Then six years later I am here at the Olympics.”
“It’s like pretty awesome,” he said of being at the Olympics. “I highly recommend it. If you ever have the option to come to the Olympics sometime…today was just so special, so much fun. You always dream of having a perfect performance on Olympic ice. It’s a lot harder than it looks. It’s way more fun and even more joyous. To be here at the Olympics is a dream come true.”
Rippon made a few small changes to his program in order to maximize his GOEs.
“So that was my plan mentally and that was what my goal was going into the event,” he said. “We made a few changes with my coach. I was able to put together a strong performance, but there are definitely a few points I want to squeeze out of my performance. I have one week and I will be squeezing the hell out of it.”
Mirai Nagasu delivered a stellar performance to music to Miss Saigon and became the first lady from the United States to land a triple Axel at the Olympics.
“Four years ago, when I was left off the (USA Olympic) team, I wanted to make another Olympic team, and I knew I would really have to be something special,” said the 24-year-old from Calif. “So, to become the first American (ladies’ figure skater) to land a triple Axel at the Olympic Games is historical, and no one can take that away from me.”
The three-time Four Continents medalist also landed seven more triple jumps and showed strong spins and footwork to earn a new personal best of 137.53 (73.38/64.15) for second place. She could barely contain her excitement at the end of the program after this personal triumph.
“Even from the beginning I felt my teammates’ support,” said the seven-time U.S. national medalist. “They were like, ‘Start, start, start’ because I almost got a deduction as I took too much time and you only have 30 seconds before we get into our (starting) pose. Even at the end I could hear Alexa (Scimeca-Knierim) say, ‘You did it, girl!’ I was like ‘Girl, I still have one more jump, but I’m going to nail it.’ In these times of stress, these are the moments that really matter, so I’ll remember this forever.”
“I was sobbing when she finished, and all I could think of was, ‘I’m glad I put on waterproof mascara,'” said Scimeca-Knierim. “I was so proud of her! I see her train so hard every day and I see her run clean programs like it’s nothing. It’s so easy for her to skate clean at home, and it was so special to have that moment on Olympic ice.”
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani displayed confidence in their inspiring routine to “Paradise” by Coldplay, impressing with strong footwork as well as level 4 lifts and twizzles. The three-time World medalists finished in second with 112.01 (56.41/55.60) points.
“I’m speechless,” Maia Shibutani said. “It’s been such a journey for us, so much work. To experience this Olympic medal not just with each other, but also our friends and teammates, it’s a great way to start our second Olympic Winter Games.”
“It’s a different feeling being so actively engaged in the things that are going on around you, as opposed to a regular event, where we’re just solely focused on our performance,” said Alex Shibutani. “That can work for you and against you, because those are potential distractions. It was a really special feeling today waking up from my nap and seeing that Adam (Rippon) had really thrown it down and then we we started warming up, seeing Mirai (Nagasu) nail that triple Axel was just an amazing thing. I don’t know if there was a camera in the warm-up area, but Maia and I definitely fist-pumped.”
Italy (56 points)
Matteo Rizzo posted a score of 156.11 (78.77/77.34) for fourth-place finish for his entertaining routine to a Beatles medley. The 19-year-old under-rotated a triple Axel in the second half of his program but was otherwise clean.
Carolina Kostner opened her enchanting free skate to L’Après-midi d’un faune with a triple Lutz, but under-rotated two of her jumps and stepped out of a triple loop, but showed good spins and strong footwork to place fourth with 134.00 (59.73/74.27) points.
Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte told a story with their routine to music from La Vita e Bella which featured solid twizzles and difficult lifts. They placed fourth 107.00 (52.70/54.30)
“We skated the best we could and we skated our hearts out,” said Cappellini. “Obviously we were very disappointed with the score. I think we were five points more at the beginning of the season. It just doesn’t make sense. Something is escaping our ability to understand, because we are improving and making changes. We’ve trained so hard and we know we performed good today. You think you have the skate of a lifetime and you are awarded a low score. It might be because they are a bit cautious because it’s the first event. But us, compared to the other teams, we seem to have lost ground.”
The team was also docked a point for a “fall” on their Short Dance.
“We were awarded a fall for the choreographic exit of the lift, which we have been doing all season and we never had a deduction,” Cappellini explained. “It’s a split. It’s a choreographic movement. It had nothing awkward to it and we were very surprised about it. We are going to try to do it higher. We were surprised.”
“In this competition there were some weird calls by the technical specialist, so I don’t know exactly what they have seen,” added Lanotte. “I am sure that all of the judges and the technical panel are professional and competent people, and I am sure they have their reason why they gave us such a low score. We’re going to try to maybe talk to someone to explain to us why we got such mediocre score.”
Despite the disappointing score, the Italians had a lot of fun with the team.
“I think it really brings people together,” said Cappellini. “We wanted to try to get this medal. We put out all the best performances and skaters and the federation was very much involved in ensuring that we fought with the best teams and performances that we could. It brought us together a lot in the past weeks and even in our rooms here. The last couple of days there was a lot of friendship going on. It’s such an individual sport, so it was great that it felt like a team sport.”
Japan (50 points)
Keiji Tanaka lost 18 points off the bat after he doubled his first two quad attempts. The two-time Japanese silver medalist also fell on another quad attempt and struggled with a flying camel spin. He scored 148.36 (72.02/77.34) for fifth place.
“I made big mistakes and I feel like I let down my team,” said the 23-year-old. “I did not feel extra pressure because of the team event, but I am disappointed that I could not do better. I will analyze my mistakes and I hope I will do better in the individual competition.”
Kaori Sakamoto under-rotated her opening triple flip and later received an edge call on her triple Lutz, but was otherwise clean in her expressive routine to music from the Amélie soundtrack. The 2018 Four Continents champion finished in fifth place with 131.91 (65.51/66.40).
Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed were ethereal in their dance to a story of the life of a cherry blossom, however, Reed took an uncharacteristic fall during the circular steps. The finished fifth with 87.88 (44.69/44.19) points.