Skating Improves on Team Event’s Second Day
Virtue & Moir go unchallenged by the other dance teams participating; Medvedeva rescues her team by winning the ladies short; Duhamel & Radford further boost the Canadian lead as the free skates start.
The first day of skating in the 2018 Olympics hadn’t gone quite according to plan. That was mostly because the men’s short was just plain awful, with the man from Japan winning it simply because he was merely a touch subpar. The U.S. media has been going after poor Nathan Chen for cracking ever since, never mind that he skated no worse than half the field. Thankfully the pairs was a much more watchable affair, though only the team from Russia was truly flawless. They and their fellow Olympic Athletes from Russia had needed that by then, since their man had completely blown it. Second and third place placements by their pairs and man left Canada first. A pair of fourths got the U.S. second, and the Russians tied with Japan for third.
The next two nights will see the team medals settled. Tonight the dance teams and ladies skated their short program. Then the top five teams moved on to the free skates, and were given a chance to switch out up to two of their skaters or teams between segments. The pairs skated right after. The other three disciplines have to wait another day. As with the short programs, skaters can earn up to ten points for their team, though with only five skaters or couples in each segment, the lowest ranked still earns six.
Team Short Dance
In what they’ve now confirmed in their final competition, there’s only one ice dance team able to beat Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, and they chose not to do the team event. None of the other nine teams could quite match their skating ability, or the electric Latin vibe they let out. If the technical panel gave them only a level 2 on their rumba pattern, only one other team got higher, and they did most of their elements better than everyone else too. Their score wasn’t their highest, but nor were most of the other scores, and they still easily topped the leaderboard and extended Canada’s lead to four points with 27.
That was over the U.S. when Maia & Alex Shibutani managed to claim second by a fraction of a point over Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev, expanding that lead at 23 to 21 points. Both teams had tiny quibbles with their rumbas, with the Russians having particular trouble with a Choctaw. The Shibutanis had the lowest technical tariff of the top four, while Bobrova & Soloviev tied Virtue & Moir for the highest. But the back half of the Americans’ short dance was very well done, enough so to make the gap up as they outskated the Russians.
Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte were the only team to get higher than a level two on their rumba pattern: they got a level three. But when her legs hit the ice coming out of their closing rotational lift, the technical panel penalized them a point for a fall. The judges didn’t penalize the lift any, but while theirs was one of the most energetic performances of the night, in terms of execution, they were just a little bit behind Americans and Russians, and even had they not lost the point, they still would’ve only gotten fourth. At least the resulting total of 17 points for Italy left them in fifth, in qualifying position.
The Olympic Athletes from Russia were certain to break their tie with Japan here; Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed weren’t going to match the top four. Instead they had to finish as high as possible. And they did just that, getting fifth to keep Japan in fourth with 22 points. They did it with the most energetic performance of the lower-ranked teams and the highest technical tariff of them by some way, the only one close to the top four, though their twizzles weren’t perfect.
Sixth place Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain le Gac and seventh place Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu were pretty close to the Japanese on presentation, skating with smoothness and strength. But while the French beat, the Chinese stayed ahead of them in the standings with 14 points. Between them, Germany took 13 points when Kavita Lorenz & Joti Polizoakis placed eighth, getting the highest tariff of the back half of the field.
France even ended up behind Israel, though Adel Tankova & Ronald Zilberberg simply were not on same level as the rest of the field and finished a distant tenth. But it was the home team was left in last with only 8 points as Yura Min & Alexander Gamelin finished ninth with some trouble with their twizzles.
Team Ladies Short
After one technical panel went after the dance team’s rumba patterns, the next went after the ladies’ triple-triple combinations. Only three ladies got difficult ones ratified. One, of course, was Evgenia Medvedeva, landing her triple flip-triple toe. In fact, once she held onto her double axel, she skated mostly like her old, perfect self. The judges rewarded her with a new world record score and she had no trouble topping the leaderboard, and propelling the Olympic Athletes from Russia up into second going into the free skate with 31 points.
Canada remained in the lead, but with 34 points, they lost ground. Kaetlyn Osmond opened with a messy underrotated triple flip-triple toe, and followed it up with a poorly landed lutz. She knocked out the rest, but could only get third behind Carolina Kostner. Kostner underroated the same triple-triple, but dazzled throughout the rest of her program. It not only rose Italy up into qualifying, it allowed them, with 26 points, to tie Japan for fourth going into the free skates.
Among the current possible outcomes of the bronze medal battle is Japan beating the U.S. by a point. If they do, it can now be said they did so by a hundredth of a point, by which Satoko Miyahara beat Bradie Tennell here for fourth. When Miyahara went for her triple lutz-triple toe, both jumps got underrotated. Tennell landed that combination, skating a clean, serviceable program. Of course she’s not nearly a match for the top four artistically, and so Miyahara outperformed her by just enough. With fifth, Tennell kept the U.S. in third with 29 points.
The last difficult triple-triple was Da-Bin Choi’s triple lutz-triple toe. South Korea, with 13 points, ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for last with France and Israel, but Choi at least ended the home team’s run on a good note, skating one of her solid clean routines for sixth. Xiangning Li too ended the Chinese run well in seventh to total 18 points. Her program had only a triple-double combination, but was still fairly well skated. Germany finished seventh with 16, with Nicole Schott finishing eighth. She held on to an easier triple toe-triple toe after falling on a flip.
In ninth Mae Berenice Meite had a very messy program, barely beating Aimiee Buchanan. In contrast, Buchanan, whom Israel got to bring to Korea solely for team event, made better use of her only Olympic skate, skating one of the best short programs she’s ever done, albeit with her hardest triple, a salchow, underrotated, and finished her Games with a huge smile on her face.
Team Pairs Free
Much to everyone’s surprise, short program winners Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov did not do the free skate. Instead the team from Russia brought in Natalja Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert. While they weren’t incapable of winning the segment, that made it Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford’s to lose. They took exactly one chance, going for their throw quadruple salchow, which she stayed up on, though her hands didn’t. Once again he held on to their side by side triple lutzes, and they pulled off the triple salchow three jump. That pretty much assured them the segment, and Canada now has 45 points and a six-point lead.
Zabiiako & Enbert had struggles anyway. They pulled off their three-jump, but doubled their salchows, and late in the program she even fell on a transition. That dropped them to third; leaving them with 39 points and only a three-point lead on the U.S. Once again Italy grabbed a second place. They were the other team to switch out their pairs. That was an expected and ultimately very good decision, as Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek had just about the best free skate they’ve ever had. Their main big ticket item was another triple salchow three-jump, just one the many things they nailed in their ever-entertaining program. With 35 points, Italy is currently only a point out of third.
The magic from their short program didn’t quite return for Alexa Scimeca Knierim & Chris Knierim. Their only major mistake was a fall from him, but that cost them their combination, and the side by side salchows and throw flip were both glitchy. Still, it was one of the best skates they’ve had so far this season, and they at least had no trouble staying ahead of the Japanese. Miu Suzuki & Ryuichi Kihara once again landed a rough pair of lutzes, but after that the rest of their jump elements all went wrong. Japan is currently in fifth with 32 points, but they were prepared for that after this segment.
View full results here. The team event concludes Monday morning.