In accordance with several other changes to the Winter Olympics, one of the event's most stable mainstays will also add in a new wrinkle.
The Olympic Committee decided that there's no "I" in "figure skating," adding in a team element that gives everyone another chance at earning a medal. Should we tell them about the two I's in figure skating?
This will not involve team members tossing a skater into the air as she spins into the arms of a waiting teammate, but each country will select one entrant for each program, and the points will be added up and ranked as a unit.
Will this new aspect of Olympic figure skating work out well? What else is worth watching, and where and when can viewers watch it? Here's all the essential information.
|Date||Event||NBC Sports Airing (ET)||NBC Airing (ET)|
|Feb. 8||Women's Short Program, Pairs' Free Skate||11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.||8-11:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 9||Team: Men's Free Skate, Women's Free Skate, Free Dance||10 a.m.-1 p.m.||2-6 p.m., 8-11:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 11||Pairs Short Program||10 a.m.-1:45 p.m.||8-11:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 12||Pairs Free Skate||10 a.m.-1:45 p.m.||8-11:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 13||Men's Short Program||10 a.m.-3 p.m.||8-11:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 14||Men's Free Skate||10 a.m.-2:15 p.m.||8-11:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 16||Short Dance||10 a.m.-2 p.m.||7-11 p.m.|
|Feb. 17||Free Dance||10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.||8-11:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 19||Women's Short Program||10 a.m.-3 p.m.||8-11:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 20||Women's Free Skate||10 a.m.-3 p.m.||8-11:30 p.m.|
How Will Team Aspect Play Out?
Change is always scary, especially for an Olympic sport entrenched in more than 100 years of history.
Don't panic. This doesn't alter any of the other events but merely gives Olympians another opportunity to strut their stuff in Sochi. One nation claiming a medal for athletes who have worked their entire lives to obtain one can't be all that bad.
Is adding a team competition into Olympic figure skating a good idea?
What's more interesting is the notion that Russia, the hosting nation, added on the event just so the home nation could snag a victory. American ice dancer Charlie White suggested that much, via B/R Olympics lead writer Diane Pucin.
"They're trying to make up extra sports they could do so they could win more medals," White said.
That's how sportsmanship works, right?
It makes for intriguing television, and Olympic viewers tend to flock to narratives supporting team camaraderie. But skaters from the same country will have to switch from teaming up to facing off for individual glory.
Before slamming it, let's see if team figure skating pans out.
Can U.S. Keep Medal Streak Alive?
A United States representative has donned the red, white and blue on the podium in every Olympic event since 1936. Will the U.S. keep the figure skating streak alive?
Since the Soviet Union's medals are not counted in Russia's tally, the U.S. leads every other nation by a wide margin at 46. (Russia has 22 while the Soviet Union collected 24, so there would be a tie otherwise.)
Olympic champion Evan Lysacek will not compete due to a torn labrum, forcing the men to search elsewhere for a star. Veteran Jeremy Abbott will take the ice in possibly his final Olympic go-around, while 19-year-old Jason Brown will skate up for his first attempt at Olympic glory.
Ashley Wagner fell twice during her free skate at this year's Nationals, but she's still one of the top Americans to watch in Sochi. There are several strong female contenders without one overwhelming favorite, so this presents a chance for a U.S. woman to win gold for the first time since Sarah Hughes in 2002.
The U.S. has left the Olympics with at least two medals in their last four tries, so the ceiling is set high for a group that must deal with the favored Russians clamoring to defend their home ice.