Nathan Chen competes during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at the Winter Olympics PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.

Figure skating in the Olympics actually predates the Winter Games, with competitions in men’s, women’s, pairs and men’s “special figures” taking place at the 1908 Games in London. The former three events were also held at the 1920 Games in Antwerp. It was only four years after that when the first Olympic Winter Games were held in Chamonix, France. The Olympic figure skating program remained the same until 1976, when ice dance was added. The next significant change came in 2014 with the addition of the team event. Those five events will once again make up the program in Beijing.

Team USA is one of the sport’s traditional powers, with 51 total medals and 15 golds. No country has more, although Russia — if including the Soviet Union, Unified Team and 2018 Olympic Athletes for Russia — would eclipse the U.S. in both.

Both countries remain top contenders going into Beijing, though the dynamics have changed a bit. After an American woman medaled in every Winter Games from 1968 to 2006, the U.S. has now gone three Olympics without a women’s medal. Instead, Team USA will see its best medal hopes in the men’s and ice dance events, in addition to the team competition. Russia, meanwhile, has emerged as the power in women’s skating; competing in Beijing as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), it has gold-medal potential in pairs and dance, too.

Three-time world champion Nathan Chen leads the way for Team USA. Now 22, Chen has been dominant since a disappointing Olympic debut four years ago in PyeongChang. The ice dance teams of Madison Chock/Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue have both reached the podium at recent world championships as well.

The figure skating events in Beijing will take place at Capital Indoor Stadium, a venue that held volleyball matches during the 2008 Summer Games. When not hosting figure skating, the arena will also be home to short track speedskating events.

Updated on January 28, 2022. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

Four years ago, Nathan Chen arrived at his first Olympics with high hopes. Instead, a mistake-filled short program took him out of contention. An ambitious, quad-filled free skate lifted him from 17th to fifth in the final standings, and he’s been riding that momentum ever since. Chen won the next three world titles (2018-19, 2021), and is expected to battle for the gold medal with two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, among others.

Team USA went 26 years without claiming an ice dance medal before Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto won silver in 2006. Now the Americans come into Beijing looking to make it five Games in a row with an ice dance medal. Behind the veteran teams of Madison Chock/Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue, that streak could remain intact. At the most recent world championships, Hubbell and Donohue finished second, while Chock and Bates were fourth. The Russian team of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov won.

As triple and quadruple jumps become more and more prevalent in the women’s event, Russia seems to produce more and more championship-caliber skaters. A Russian woman has won the past two Olympic gold medals and five of the previous six world champions. Defending U.S. champion Mariah Bell and the rest of the American women will face an uphill battle to break through to the podium in Beijing.

The addition of the figure skating team event in 2014 has proved fruitful for Team USA. The American team has won the bronze medal in each of the first two competitions, with Russia and Canada trading places atop the podium.

Mariah Bell (Lake Forest, California): At 25, Bell just became the oldest U.S. women’s champion in the sport since 1927. She’ll look to parlay that experience into a strong performance at her debut Olympics. The skater known for her elegance and charisma has competed in three world championships, most recently in 2019 when she finished ninth.

Nathan Chen (Salt Lake City): Since his disastrous short program at the 2018 Olympics, Chen has been unmatched in men’s figure skating. He came back in PyeongChang to throw down a quad-filled free skate that brought him back to within striking distance of the Olympic podium. Then he started a winning streak at that year’s world championships that wasn’t snapped until this fall. Nonetheless, Chen, now 22, comes into Beijing as a three-time world champion and with a new winning streak after claiming the top spot at nationals in January. He is taking a leave from his studies at Yale University to pursue Olympic gold in Beijing.

Madison Chock (Novi, Michigan) and Evan Bates (Ann Arbor, Michigan): One of Team USA’s two strong ice dancing partnerships, Chock, 29, and Bates, 32, arrive in Beijing with momentum after winning their third U.S. title in January. The on- and off-ice couple is competing in their third Olympics together (Bates has an additional Olympic appearance with a different partner), and after claiming two world championships medals together, they’re looking for their first at the Olympic level. Their unique “Lovers from Outer Space” free dance tells the story of an astronaut who falls in love with an extraterrestrial.

Madison Hubbell (Sylvania, Ohio) and Zachary Donohue (Madison, Connecticut): Team USA’s other star ice dance duo has reached the podium at all three world championships since making their Olympic debuts in 2018, most recently winning a silver medal in 2021. Longtime partners Hubbell, 30, and Donohue, 31, were in position to medal after the short program at the 2018 Olympics but ultimately finished fourth. With power, speed and finesse in each of their performances, they could be in position to make the jump into the medals this time around.

Vincent Zhou (Palo Alto, California): Sometimes overshadowed by teammate Chen, Zhou has firmly established himself among the top tier of men’s skaters as well. After becoming the youngest U.S. junior champion in 2013, he won the junior world title in 2017. Zhou then made his Olympic debut in 2018 and finished third at the world championships a year later. Now 21, Zhou has the quad jumps in his repertoire to potentially make an impact in Beijing.

Meet the full U.S. figure skating team in this article.  

Feb. 4 ¬– Team competition (men, ice dance and pairs short programs)
Feb. 6 – Team competition (women’s short program, pairs free skate) 
Feb. 7 – Team competition (men’s, ice dance and women’s free skates)
Feb. 8 – Men’s short program
Feb. 10 – Men’s free skate
Feb. 12 – Rhythm dance
Feb. 14 – Free dance
Feb. 15. – Women’s short program
Feb. 17 – Women’s free skate
Feb. 18 – Pairs short program
Feb. 19 – Pairs free skate
Feb. 20 – Exhibition gala