2018 Winter Olympics: Figure Skating News
Figure Skating kicked off at the 2018 Winter Olympics with the Team Event in PyeongChang, South Korea. Team Canada leads after the men and pairs teams competed their short programs on Friday at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
A total of ten teams—each comprised of two single skaters (one man and one lady) and two teams (Ice Dance and Pairs)—competed, and the top five will move on to compete in the Free Skate and Free Dance. The teams scored as follows: Canada (17), United States (14), Japan (13), OAR (Olympic Athletes from Russia) (13), and Israel (11).
Patrick Chan struggled in his short to “Dust in the Wind,” falling on his opening quad toe and a triple Axel to finish in third place (81.66) behind Shoma Uno (JPN) and Alexei Bychenko (ISR).
“I felt really very much in control of my thoughts and how my body felt,” said the 27-year-old on the start of his third Olympic Winter Games. “It’s been four years since I’ve been here. I am the type of skater that takes time since I’ve gotten older, to warm up and to get up to the quads and get comfortable in competition. This is a long two weeks and I am not going to look back too much and it’s a good opportunity to get the early jitters out.”
“Obviously, I am not super happy with the skate,” said the ten-time Canadian Champion, who admitted to being nervous and a little tight in the upper body. “I am going to be here a awhile and there are a lot of programs to be competed. It’s not the best start I wanted, but I have the support of my teammates. They make me feel so much better, even when it’s not the best skate, they are holding me up and making me feel like I belong here. That’s the best thing abou tthe team event.”
Canadian Champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford finished second in the Pairs event behind Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (OAR) with 76.57 points. The team landed side-by-side triple Lutzes, a throw triple Lutz and earned a level four their two spins and footwork in their routine to “With Or Without You.”
“It was a pretty good performance,” noted Duhamel. “I think we were both a little bit tight on the landing of the side-by-side triple Lutzes. All of the other elements felt quite smooth and we did a great twist it felt very strong and in control. It is going to be a long week for us, so we are trying just to control our emotions and our energy.
Nathan Chen finished in fourth place (80.61) after his Short Program to “Nemesis” by Benjamin Clementine after taking a fall on a triple Axel. The 18-year-old also popped a planned quad toe, but otherwise landed a quad flip-double toe combination and earned level fours on his spins and footwork.
Chen was visibly disappointed after his performance and felt that he let both himself and the team down, stating that it was not a representation of who he is and what he can do.
“[I] definitely need to work harder for the next couple of days,” said the U.S. Champion. “I need some time to go over everything. All of the mistakes that I did. Figure out exactly what went wrong so that when the time comes for the actual (individual) event, that doesn’t happen again. It wasn’t a nerves thing, I just wasn’t in the right place mentally going in. Not in terms of nerves, I just wasn’t thinking about the right things technically. I was kind of ahead of myself in terms of how to land the jump, how to get out. I wasn’t thinking about how to step in to the jump, which kind of threw me off.”
“I definitely let the rest of the team down,” he said, “so I feel bad in that regard. But I think that it was a good opportunity for me to put myself out there and make silly mistakes.”
Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Christopher Knierim also placed fourth (69.75) with a near-perfect program which featured a triple twist, side-by-side triple Salchows, and a throw triple flip, however, Scimeca-Knierim had a stumble which was reflected in the program component scores.
“Everything we went through is so worth it to keep pushing forward and chasing our dreams, because it’s moments like that where we just look at each other with so much joy and love,” said Scimeca-Knierim on their first Olympic Winter Games after a difficult few seasons.
“We’re at the Olympic Games and we’ll do six programs if we need to,” said her partner and husband, Knierim regarding their busy competition schedule. “We strategically planned out the next few days. Tomorrow we have off and after the team event is over we have two days before we start the pairs event, so we will be OK. We planned it all out.”
Uno two-footed and stepped out the landing of his opening quad flip, but was otherwise clean in his routine to “Winter,” which featured a quad toe-triple toe and triple Axel. The Japanese Champion scored 103.25 points for an overall lead in the Men’s event.
“It’s my first time coming to the Olympics and I thought I would be very anxious, but I wasn’t as anxious as I thought,” said Uno. I thought I was going to make a mistake on the quad flip and I did, but I was able to forget about it.”
The skater admitted to being sleepy during early morning practice. “But I practiced hard in the morning practices as well as at home in Japan. I also got about three hours of sleep before the competition, so it was fine.”
Aside from a low catch on the throw triple twist (level one), Miu Suzaki and Ryuichi Kihara landed side-by-side triple Lutzes and a throw triple Salchow in their routine to music from the Yuri on Ice soundtrack.
Olympic Athletes from Russia
Mikhail Kolyada showed strong spins and level four footwork in his tango routine, but fell on both quad attempts and abandoned a triple Axel. The 22-year-old from Saint Petersburg finished in eighth place (74.36).
Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov were solid in their routine to “Piano Concerto No. 2” by Sergei Rachmaninov. The two-time European Champions earned a level four on all elements, including a triple twist which garnered +3 Grades of Execution (GOE) across the board form the judging panel. The team also landed solid side-by-side triple toeloops and a throw triple loop, scoring a new personal best of 80.92 and first place overall in the Pairs event.
“We are 100% satisfied with the performance,” said Morozov. “We did everthing high quality and at the highest level. It was the best performance of the season and it is good to have done it now. Now we can relax our mind and body and focus on the next events.
The team did not know about the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to dismiss the appeal of Russian athletes who were not invited to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
“We were preparing for the competition and focused on that,” said Tarasova. “We were not following the news. It is sad, of course.”
Alexei Bychenko earned a new personal best of 88.49 for a second place finish in the Men’s event for his upbeat routine to the Jewish folk song “Hava Nagila.” The 2014 Olympian was clean, landing a triple Axel, quad toe, and triple Lutz-triple toe.
While nervous, the 30-year-old said he felt no pressure and for him, “it was just fun.”
“Honestly, we are not aiming for a medal here,” said Bychenko, “but I’m happy I got points for Israel and I’m pleased with my score. I hoped to crack 90 points…I didn’t quite make it, but there is still the individual event to come.”
“This is the first time and I like it that we keep writing history,” he added. “Daniel (Samohin) was the first skater to win a medal at Junior Worlds (2016; gold) and I was the first to win medals at the Grand Prix (2016 Rostelecom Cup; bronze) and European Championships (2016; silver). Now we are here at the team event for the first time.”
Page Conners and Evgeni Krasnopolski, who teamed up last spring, finished ninth (54.47). The team had a fall during their straight line footwork, but otherwise landed side-by-side triple toes and a throw triple Lutz.
China, Italy, and Germany all scored 10 points for sixth, seventh, and eighth place, while the Republic of Korea and France scored six points.
Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot came in third (75.36) in the Pairs event.
“With a fall, you cannot be satisfied,” said Savchenko, who fell on a throw triple flip. “Not everything went according to plan, but this is why we have that kind of rehearsal. We did the entry like for the the throw Axel and so I was lacking speed and I needed more strength and so I missed it.”
“We use the team event as a practice and that is what it was—a good practice,” added Massot. “We’ll do bettere next week for sure. We feel better physically and overall.”
The Team Event will continue Sunday with the Short Dance, Ladies Short Program, and Pairs Free Skate.