Team Canada confirmed their role as favorites as the figure skating competition at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games opened with the Men’s and Pairs Short Programs of the team event. Canada has 17 points, three points ahead of team USA. Team Japan is third on 13 points.
Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford (CAN) ©AFP
Two-time World Pairs Champions Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford put out a clean skate to “With Or Without You” that featured a side by side triple Lutz and a throw triple Lutz to place second in the Pairs Short Program. They scored 76.57 points and earned nine points for their team.
Olympic silver medallist Patrick Chan finished third in the Men’s Short Program after falling on the quadruple toeloop and triple Axel in his routine set to “Dust in the Wind” (81.66 points).
“Today was a good example of good skates and bad skates,” said Chan. “In my case I was so thankful I had the support of my teammates on and off the ice. Eric (Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford) had a great skate and I had a so so skate. But the reactions when we got off the ice and got into the kiss n’ cry it made my experience from possibly being poor to being exciting, fun and lighthearted and transferred the energy over to the team.”
Nathan Chen (USA) ©Getty Images
For team USA, ISU Grand Prix Final Champion Nathan Chen and pair skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim placed fourth in their segments, taking seven points each for the team. Scimeca/Knierim were solid in their program to “Come What May” with a side by side triple Salchow and throw triple flip. However, she stumbled on the exit from their lift (69.75 points). Chen opened his program to “Nemesis” with a quad flip-double toe combination but then popped the planned quad toe into a double and crashed on the triple Axel (80.61 points).
“I think team USA is in a good position,” said team captain Scimeca. “Nathan had a bit of an unfortunate skate. We watched it on the bus ride here and we were asked if we felt more pressure because of it, but this is our first Games and Nathan’s as well. We are experiencing everything as it comes. We are all very supportive of one another and I think the rest of the event is going to go very well for Team USA,” she added.
Team Japan ©Getty Images
Shoma Uno kept his team in the game by taking the men’s short program although he stumbled on his quadruple flip (103.25 points). “I watched most of the performances of the other skaters and I knew that there were mistakes. I thought I might do a mistake as well and I did, but I was able to overcome it. So I am satisfied with that,” the 2017 World silver medallist commented. Pair skaters Miu Suzaki/Ryuichi Kihara came eighth.
“We are actually really proud of the performances of Shoma (Uno) and also Miu (Suzaki) and Ryuichi (Kihara) today. It really gave us a lot of motivation for us to do the short program the day after tomorrow. Team Japan is really in high spirits,” team captain Chris Reed told the post-event press conference.
The Olympic Athletes from Russia and defending Olympic team champions are surprisingly sitting only in fourth place. While two-time European Pairs Champions Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov fulfilled the expectations and won the short program with an excellent performance, Mikhail Kolyada faltered and missed all three jumping passes. He finished in eighth place. The Olympic Athletes from Russia have 13 points like Japan, but the higher total score of the two performances broke the tie in favor of Japan.
“It was important to do a strong short program, a season’s best. We hope our performance will motivate the rest of the team,” Morozov said.
Israel ranked fifth on 11 points, which was another surprise. 2016 European silver medallist Alexei Bychenko scored nine points by placing second in the short program.
The figure skating team competition continues Sunday with the Short Dance, Ladies Short Program and the Pairs Free skating.