Meryl Davis is an iconic figure skater whose resume includes a 2014 Olympic gold medal in ice dance – the first-ever for Team USA – a 2010 Olympic silver in ice dance and 2014 Olympic bronze in the team event. She and partner Charlie White also won two world titles, two world silver medals, five Grand Prix Final medals and six U.S. titles. Davis will be writing for TeamUSA.org throughout the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
It’s another bronze for Team USA! Four years after my teammates and I took bronze in the inaugural Olympic figure skating team event, the 2018 U.S. figure skating team came through in a big way for another podium finish.
Here’s a look at what the team event is and what went down over the past few days in Korea…
How Does It Work?
In its second appearance at the Games, many of the details of the figure skating team event remain a bit of a mystery to the casual fan. Simply, the “team event” is distinguished from the “individual” figure skating events in that final result and podium placements are based on the collective point totals earned by each nation’s representative in their respective events. Thus, it is entire teams standing on the podium and winning medals rather than individuals or couples. With 10 countries to start, each nation selects a representative or representatives for each discipline’s short program. Countries may earn 1-10 points per discipline based on results. For example, 10 points for first, nine for second and so on. Only the five countries with the most points after all four short program segments may advance to the free program. Once the free programs for each discipline are complete, points are tallied for each of the five remaining countries and determine the overall result. Simple, right? Sort of…..
Overall Team Strength
While some of the favorites for the individual figure skating events include athletes from Japan, China, Germany and France, the team event heavily favors the Canadian, Russian and American teams. Though none of these countries necessarily has the highest scoring athletes across the board, the “big three” are at an advantage as it pertains to overall depth across the four disciplines.
With little chance of a podium finish, several countries elected to preserve the energy of their brightest stars for the highly anticipated individual events. Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, France’s Gabrielle Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, and China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong all notably forewent participation in the team event. Furthermore, each country may decide whether to rely on one athlete or couple for both portions of the discipline’s event or to split the responsibilities – countries get two changes each. While Canada enlisted three-time world champion Patrick Chan for the men’s short and long programs, the United States divided responsibilities for the men’s short and long programs between reigning U.S. champion, Nathan Chen, and Adam Rippon, respectively
While Italy put up a commendable fight, it was ultimately Canada, Russia and the United States with podium finishes. With a star-studded team, Canada easily won the country’s first gold medal of the Games. 2010 Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir led the Canadian team to victory in a brilliant final performance of the event. The dancers earned 20 points for their gold-medal-winning team. Joining Virtue and Moir were Patrick Chan, 18 points, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, 19 points, and Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman with 16 points between the two. With a total of 73 points, Canada finished firmly ahead of silver medalist Olympic Athletes from Russia.
With some truly outstanding performances, particularly from rivals, training mates and international sensations Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova, OAR earned 66 points total; Russia won gold in 2014. Winning the inaugural team event in Sochi four years ago, it was an eighth-place finish in the men’s short program that left some considerable distance between Canada and Russia heading into the free programs in PyeongChang.
Several last minute, sensational performances solidified America’s podium position ahead of the lone challenger, Italy. With an uncharacteristically imperfect short program from America’s Nathan Chen, fan favorite Adam Rippon came through in the long program with an absolutely stunning Olympic debut. Perhaps the biggest story from Team USA, though, coming out of this team event is Mirai Nagasu’s record-making triple axel in her long program. After a solid showing in the short from whirlwind newcomer Bradie Tennell, Nagasu earned nine points for the team as she became the first American woman in history to land a triple axel in the Olympic Games. After a fourth-place finish in the 2010 Games and being left off of the team in 2014, Nagasu’s performance in the free skate was a truly extraordinary moment and triumph for the skater as well as for her American teammates.
With a solid showing from America’s sole pair team at the Games, Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim, ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani sealed America’s bronze medal position with an inspired free dance to Coldplay’s “Paradise.” The Shibutani siblings, or “Shib Sibs,” earned the team 18 points for a total of 62. America finished six points ahead of fourth-place finisher Italy.
Congratulations to all the teams! What an incredible way to kick off the figure skating at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games!