(L-R) Jason Brown, Timothy LeDuc, Ashley Cain-Gribble and Mariah Bell get fitted in Nike ahead of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Jan. 28, 2022 in Los Angeles.
BEIJING — The hallmarks of figure skating — strategy, glamour and a dash of controversy — all come into focus with the team event, which kicks off the sport’s schedule at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 with the men’s short program on Friday.
Squads from 10 nations will contend in Beijing, each competing in short programs in the men’s, women’s and pairs events, plus rhythm dances for the ice dancers.
Winners in each event are awarded 10 points, second place gets nine points, and so on down the line. Results are tallied, and the top five countries qualify for the free skate round. Scores from the short program round carry over. Whoever gets the most points, wins.
With dominance in the women’s event plus strength in the other three disciplines, the Russian Olympic Committee is heavily tipped for gold. At the 2021 World Team Trophy, an event with a similar format held last April in Osaka, Japan, Russian skaters defeated Team USA by 15 points.
“I’m certain Team Russia is going to throw down an amazing performance,” said Nathan Chen, the three-time defending men’s world champ, who is expected to star for Team USA. “World Team Trophy was a pretty good example of that. So, it’s going to be a pretty cool event.”
Asked which of the quadruple jump equipped ROC women here he favored, Chen replied, “All three of them bring so much to the sport. I’m glad I don’t have to compete against them. They are doing spectacular things.”
After winning bronze medals in Sochi and PyeongChang, the first two Winter Games to include the team event, the U.S. should have a solid chance for silver in Beijing but must overcome a strong Japanese team. Here are a few key points:
Not Every Skater Gets To Compete
Team USA brings three men, three women, three ice dance teams and two pair teams to Beijing, but only two single skaters and two teams compete in the team short program and rhythm dance events. Two skaters/teams may be swapped out for the free programs and free dances.
Spots on the team are, naturally, highly coveted. U.S. Figure Skating published a lengthy document explaining its selection process, but it boils down to this: skaters are ranked according to results at the recent U.S. championships, plus international scores over the past few seasons. Top-ranked skaters are given the option of competing in one, or both, segments of the team event, or to opt out entirely.
Participants in the men’s and pairs short programs, and the rhythm dance, will be announced Thursday. Competitors in the women’s short will be announced Friday. On Sunday, skaters chosen for the free skate and free dance events will be announced.