Golden Skate

Team Canada maintains lead in Figure Skating in PyeongChang

2018 Winter Olympics: Team Canada

Team Canada celebrates another victorious day in the Team Event for Figure Skating.

2018 Winter Olympics: Figure Skating News

Canada continues to the lead in the Team Event for Figure Skating at the 2018 Winter Olympics after the Short Dance, Ladies Short Program, and Pairs Free Skate on Sunday at the Gangneung Ice Arena. The tally is as follows: Canada (45), Olympic Athletes from Russia (39), United States (36), Italy (35), and Japan (32).

Canada

Two-time Olympic medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir finished first in the Short Dance with 80.51 (41.61/38.90). The team missed two of their level 2 Rhumba pattern key points, but still scored no less than +2s in Grades of Execution (GOE) across the board on all elements. They also eared twelve perfect 10s in their program components scores for performance, composition, and interpretation of the music.

Virtue said their reaction to the scores this early in the competition is just them being perfectionists and wanting to be aware of how they maximize points and evaluate the performance.

“We still have a big job to do tomorrow,” she said, “then again next week. We are trying not to get ahead of ourselves, but we are really pleased with that performance.”

Moir felt that it was a tough panel.

“We thought that that was an improved skate for what we have done, especially internationally, in the fall, but that’s a good sign,” he said. “This is the Olympic Games. You are looking for the harshest panel, especially when you are going to have the best field that you have had in four years. I think it’s a good sign and we have no reason to think the judging isn’t fair.”

“We’ll be looking at the tape before next week,” he added. “I think that’s what you see in the ‘Kiss and Cry’, probably my face, because I am more reactive. We are trying to figure out how we get back to that max score on an international scale. The calls are important and we just have to learn from them.”

Coach Marie-France Dubreuil was baffled with the scores as well, not understanding how the scores could go down after a full season instead of up.

“I think the (technical) callers are trying to be extra strict and they are, which is a good thing,” she said, “but I hope from now to the individual event, everyone will train a little bit more and that we’ll see the technical score go up.”

Kaetlyn Osmond was nearly clean in her routine to “Sous le ciel de Paris” which featured strong level 4 spins, footwork, however, her triple Lutz received an edge call and she under-rotated the back half of her opening triple flip-triple toe. The three-time national champion scored 71.38 (35.10/36.28) for a third-place finish in the Short Program.

“I feel really good and I didn’t leave anything out on the table,” said Osmond of her focus on the program. “Some of the program got a little messy, but I was able to keep focused and pushing throughout the whole thing. I felt really good out on the ice and I definitely felt the excitement.”

The 2017 World silver medalist acknowledges that her jumps are big, and with excitement, they tend to get bigger.

“I have been working on them, trying to tame the jumps down and making them more controlled, which is what I am looking for,” said the 22-year-old. “I just felt like jumping over the boards.”

Osmond, who was 13th at Sochi in 2014, is excited to be back at the Olympics. In the last four years, she recovered from a broken leg and a year of disastrous competitions.

“The last four years have definitely been a roller coaster, but it was building all the way up to this moment,” she said. “I don’t even remember how it felt to compete in the team event in the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Four years has been a really long time, but today I felt even more ready and more confident, and I was excited to be part of the team again.”

“I just feel like I have been building to this moment,” Osmond added. “It took a lot of mental training and finding my passion again for skating. There was a lot of just finding out who I am.”

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford led the Pairs event with a first-place finish after their routine to Adele’s “Hometown Glory” which earned them 148.51 (77.26/71.25) points. The two-time World champions were nearly flawless apart from a touch down on their daring throw quad Salchow. Their short also featured side-by-side triple Lutzes and side-by-side triple Salchow-double toe-double toes, as well as a good triple twist and level four lifts and spins.

“That performance felt really good,” said Duhamel. “It felt great to lay out a solid long program at the Olympics, which we weren’t able to do four years ago. That was a really great skate with a lot of room to improve for Thursday and the individual event. We really tried to pretend that we were at home and we were in training. We were trying to black out everything that was going on around us.”

“We are really, really happy,” Radford agreed. “Definitely we were more nervous backstage than for the short program. So I felt a little bit more unstable, but once the music started, we got past that twist and we started to settle in. It felt really good from then on in. It was like putting ourselves into our own little bubble and following our plan. There is still a lot of skating for the team to be done, but what is nice is that we get to relax and cheer now.”

United States

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani showed strong level 4 twizzles and rotational lift in their Short Dance, finishing second with 75.46 (38.42/37.04) points. The two-time national champions were surprised with the scores, however.

“We have been scoring much higher,” said Alex Shibutani. “We will have to go back and see the levels. The performance felt great and we felt good about what we did out there.”

“We felt that the skate was actually really good,” said Maia Shibutani. “We’ve been training so hard, and to be out on Olympic ice for the first time, we are really happy with it.”

When asked about how far they have come since 2014 when they finished ninth in Sochi, Alex Shibutani felt it came down to experience.

“Maia and I have really developed over the course of four years,” he said. “It’s not so much evolving with the sport but making sure we are evolving ourselves and growing and making sure we are the best we can possibly be. I think we are in a great position right now.”

“It’s a great environment,” added Maia Shibutani of the Team Event. “Normally you don’t have boxes full of your peers watching you. I definitely felt everyone’s support on the team.”

Bradie Tennell delivered a solid routine which featured a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple loop, and level four spins and footwork. The U.S. Champion was awarded a new personal best of 68.94 (38.94/30.00) for her routine to “Taeguki.”

Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Christopher Knierim took a fall on their side-by-side triple toe combination in their tentative routine to “Ghost.” The throw jumps were a bit tight, but the two-time national champions otherwise showed a strong triple twist and lifts. They finished with 126.56 (64.82/62.74) for fourth place.

“It wasn’t a brilliant skate by any means, but we are just so happy to be here,” Scimeca-Knierim said. “We’ve already won by being able to step on the ice; this is great!”

Olympic Athletes from Russia

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev placed a close third in the Short Dance with 74.76 (38.11/36.65). The seven-time national champions picked up a level 4 on their non-touching diagonal steps and impressed with their level 4 rotational lift and twizzles.

Soloviev was not happy about the level 2 they received on the Rhumba pattern as they had worked on it more than the other elements.

“It was the best performance of the season, but not everything worked out,” said Soloviev. “The rhumba didn’t work out, it was a level two. We’ve worked so hard on it, we just didn’t stop, we looked at it from different angles, we cleaned it up, and it was a level two. These are the points that we would have needed to earn a little more points for our team.”

Bobrova, the team captain, feels it’s a lot of responsibility to show the rest of the team that they shouldn’t be nervous that “they have to fight for each other.”

“The team competition is very important to us,” she said. “The most important thing is not to lose hope and to try to give the maximum.”

This is the third Olympic Games for the team from Moscow.

“Our first ones in Vancouver were nerve-wracking,” admitted Soloviev. “Our first steps on the Olympic Games were something at the limit of nerves for us. In Sochi, it was already a competition where we had to prove ourselves and we did, winning the gold with the team, which didn’t quite work out in the individual event. Here, we want to show our programs like we can do them in practice, with a lot of emotions, and we also want to bring up the technical level to be able to compete with the top teams.”

Coming off a foot injury, Evgenia Medvedeva earned a new personal best for first place with 81.06 (42.83/38.23) points.  The two-time European champion earned positive GOEs for all her elements in her routine to “Nocturne” which featured a triple flip-triple toe, triple loop, and level 4 spins and footwork.

The 18-year-old from Moscow was happy with the result, but admitted the performance was a “bit tough” due to it being her first time on Olympic ice. She also felt she could do better despite breaking the record score for the Ladies Short Program.

“On a scale of five, I’d give myself a four, maybe a bit less, a four minus a quarter,” said the student of Eteri Tutberidze. “I know how I can skate in practice, and I know that I can be more confident in myself. I think that is why I went out on the ice today, to feel myself, and now I know the whole set-up and know for what to prepare.”

The teen said she prepared for the as if she would for a celebration.

“Experienced people were saying how great it is to be here and you could see that on TV as well that there are lot of emotions and I prepared for that,” she said. “I am happy that I have the opportunity to be here and to feel these emotions. These are new emotions for me.”

“So many people were saying, it is nerve-wracking, it is a different competition,” Medvedeva continued. “Yes, I felt a little bit nervous at the beginning of the program, but I just tried to stay calm and to be confident and I think it helped me.”

The Team Event means a lot to the skater as she remembers how the Russians won in 2014.

“I saw their emotions,” she recalled. “It is a certain responsibility, because the whole team stands behind you. Today was a personal experience for me and a lesson. That is valuable experience as the most important part, the individual competition, is still to come.”

Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert placed third after their routine to in which Zabiiako took a non-characteristic fall (non-element) and the team doubled their side-by-side triple Salchows. Nevertheless, both the throw triple flip and triple loop were solid, and the team earned level 4s on all their lifts and spins. They scored 133.28 (68.06/66.22) points.

“We did it on purpose today,” Enbert said of the double Salchows. “This is probably the only element we are not 100% confident with and we wanted to skate our program with elements that we are confident with in the team event. We’ll do it in the individual event.”

Italy

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte were the only team to earn a level 3 on their Rhumba pattern in which there was only a timing issue on the first key point. The six-time national champions also delivered strong level 4 twizzles and a rotational lift, however, the team received a one-point deduction to score 72.51 (37.31/36.20).

“It was good and it was clean,” said Lanotte. “It was our first Olympic performance and it went well. The score was mediocre, honestly. It was not a good score. We have to see the levels to understand why and where we made mistakes for the next short dance of the individual event. It’s going to be better.”

Cappellini feels that the team event brings the team together but also adds pressure as it’s not just about one skater and their partner.

“It’s the people you competed with on the team all your life,” she said. “It brings us all together. We started talking much earlier along in the season to decide strategies of who was going to skate in the event.”

Carolina Kostner was nearly flawless in her routine to “Ne Me Quitte Pas” with the exception of an under-rotated triple toe on the back half of a triple flip. The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist landed a solid triple loop and double Axel and earned a level 4 on all spins and footwork to finish second with 75.10 (36.96/38.14) points.

“First of all, I want to say that I am so overly happy to be here,” said the 31-year-old who trains under Alexei Mishin. “I skated very well. I was fighting for the team and I felt safe and surrounded by great people. Some things were tough. I was fighting for some elements, but I am happy.”

“It is a big honor to be here and that never changes,” said Kostner of her fourth consecutive Olympics. “But you know, the dynamics are a bit better between the Olympic Village and the venue, but I still feel like a little girl—privileged and honored to be here. I just want to be able to say, ‘I did my best’ and go home with a big smile and one more experience. Everything else will just add to that.”

Valentina Marchei and Ondrej Hotarek gave a near flawless routine to “Amarcord” by Nino Rota which was highlighted by strong side-by-side jumps as well as a throw triple loop and triple Lutz. The five-time national champions also earned a level 4 on all lifts and spins to finish second with a new personal best of 138.44 (72.02/67.42).

“Too many emotions,” said Marchei of their performance and personal best score. “I was so much in the bubble that I just realized in the last element that I was like, ‘Don’t wake up, there is still one element.’ It’s just so good to skate that well at that stage.”

“Overwhelmed,” was Hotarek’s response. “To hit the perfect performance in the Olympics for your country, this is probably the feeling we could have wished for. You know you have it in you to perform like this, it is just hard to get there and to perform it. So when you actually do it, it’s really great.”

“I was so stressed out before that I think everything came out,” said Marchei of her emotional reaction at the end of the program. “I needed to shout, I wanted to cry.”

Japan

Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed finished fifth in the Short Dance with 62.15 (32.17/29.98) points. The team received a level 4 on their twizzle sequences, however, two judges docked them on the GOE with -1 and they also had a timing issue with two of their key points in the Rhumba pattern.

Satoko Miyahara under-rotated her opening triple Lutz-triple toe, but was otherwise solid in her routine to “Memoirs of a Geisha.” While the triple loop was clean, one of the judges felt compelled to dock it with a -3 GOE, however, her spins and footwork were strong and garnered a level 4. She finished in fourth place with 68.95 (34.33/34.62) points.

“I felt great,” said the 19-year-old of her debut at the Olympic Games. “It was a little bit lower score for me, but I think the skating was good for me at my first Olympics. I want to cheer for my team and do the best I can in the individual event. Maybe the under-rotations cost me points. I think I had some, so I have to fix that. I thought I would be more nervous, but I had very much fun.”

Miu Suzaki and Ryuichi Kihara struggled with their side-by-side and throw jumps to come in fifth with 97.67 (49.24/49.43) points.

The Team Event will conclude on Monday with the Men’s and Ladies’ Free Skate and the Free Dance.