Winter Olympics Figure Skating 2014: Why US Team Won't Earn Individual Medal

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IFebruary 4, 2014

In this photo taken Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, from left, Polina Edmunds (second place) Gracie Gold (first place), Mirai Nagasu (third place) and Ashley Wagner (fourth place) pose with their medals after finishing as the top four women at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston. Ashley Wagner got a place on the U.S. Olympic team despite finishing fourth in the U.S. Championships Saturday, when she fell twice in the free skate. Third finisher Mirai Nagasu, the only one of the top four finishers with Olympic experience, was bumped when U.S. Figure Skating announced the selections Sunday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

The Americans are used to rolling into Olympic figure skating with strong medal contenders in the men's and women's competition. That is far from the case this time around. 

For the men's side, this is not a completely new development. 


Evan Lysacek took the gold in 2010. That, however, was Team USA's first gold in the men's competition since Brian Boitano in 1988. In fact, Lysacek's gold was just the third medal men's American figure skating earned since Boitano's gold. 

If the American women leave these games without a medal, it will be the start of a troubling trend.

The American women figure skaters were shut out in Vancouver in 2010. That was the first time the women didn't have at least one member on the podium at the Olympics since 1964. 

In Vancouver, South Korea's Yuna Kim took home the gold and Japan's Mao Asada took silver. That is nothing new in the skating community. Those two have been battling it out for top awards for almost a decade. 

That also isn't expected to change in Sochi. Those two heavyweights will likely be battling for the gold between themselves. 

As you may have noticed, however, three medals are awarded per event and not just two. So, if the American women are not going to be shut out for a second consecutive Olympics, Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds should gear up for the bronze. 

Gold would appear to be the best hopeful. She won the trials and is already starting to get a blitz of media coverage:

The 18-year-old has her sights on a medal.

This Gold quote comes to us via Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News: "The closer we get to Sochi, the more and more I want to be going for a medal. I think it’s a realistic goal, and we’ll see what happens.”

Gold is inexperienced, and her routine will not leave her room for mistakes if she wants to make the podium. I expect a good showing from Gold but not enough to earn her a medal. 

Originally, it was Ashley Wagner who looked to be Team USA's best shot at a medal, but after a fourth-place finish at the trials, medal talks for her have calmed down. 

Perhaps she will come out with the skate of her life, but even if she was in good form, she'll face an uphill battle to medal. 

For the men, Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown will be hoping to grace the podium. Abbott is an Olympic veteran looking for his greatest moment. 

Meanwhile, Brown is just 19, and this will not only be his first Olympics, but his first international competition at the senior level. 

Brown is certainly a rising star full of wonderful footwork and technical merit, but he's not quite medal-worthy with his jumps. 

It will be vital for the men to land a quad—a jump with four or more, but fewer than five, revolutions—if they want to stand on the podium. Brown is not comfortable enough with his to use it in Sochi:

Abbott has a quad in his arsenal, but clean landing is truly a rare sighting:

With Gold and Brown, Team USA very well could get a glimpse of future medal winners, but for this trip, there will be no medals for Team USA in the individual events.