Can Jeremy Abbott Bounce Back in Team Figure Skating Competition?

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

Jeremy Abbott of the United States falls as he competes in the men's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

Team figure skating has given both athletes and skating fans one more opportunity to enjoy their sport.

In case you're not familiar with the concept of team figure skating, Olympic officials have made it a medal sport in this year's Olympics. In team figure skating, men, women, pairs and ice dancers compete in both a short and a long program over a three-day period.

Ten teams are taking part in team figure skating, and the event has already gotten underway—prior to the opening ceremony. The American team consists of Jeremy Abbott, Gracie Gold or Ashley Wagner, the pair of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir and ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White. It was expected to have a reasonable chance to contend for a medal.

The most recent issue of Sports Illustrated predicted that the U.S. team would pick up the bronze medal in the event.

The U.S. may very well get that medal, but if the Americans are going to get that medal, they are going to have to overcome disappointing first-day performances by Abbott and Castelli and Shnapir.

Abbott, 28, took the ice with great expectations in Sochi, but the four-time U.S. champion fell early during his routine, and he received a score of 65.65 in the opening round. That figure left the United States in seventh place after the opening round.

Castelli and Shnapir did a bit better, but the United States was in a tie for fifth after the first day of the competition. 

Either Gold or Wagner will skate in the women's portion of the short program, while the team of Davis and White have dominated the world of ice dancing. Even with the poor Day 1 performance, it would be shocking if the U.S. didn't make the cut and have their eligible skaters compete in the free skate.

That means Abbott is likely to have a chance at redemption. He finished ninth in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and he struggled mightily in his first chance in Sochi.

Still, he thinks he can turn it around later on in the competition. Per Christine Brennan of USA Today, Abbott admitted he was "torn apart" by his performance immediately after coming off the ice. He threw his head in his hands when he saw his scored posted while surrounded by his U.S. teammates.

However, after the competition, his attitude was much better and he was looking forward to the free-skate portion of the program. 

"You know, like, I just fell on my butt," Abbott said, per Brennan's report. "I have another chance. I've been skating extremely consistently here."

Critics dogged Abbott for his performance, but he's not dwelling on his embarrassing start. Per Brennan, he's thinking about what he can do going forward. That's a positive sign for a skater who has had problems rebounding in the past. 

Abbott will skate in the men's figure skating competition, but he will also get a chance to redeem himself in the team competition if U.S. officials don't go elsewhere to fill his slot. The fact that he's choosing to stay positive should work in his favor.

"I think I just needed to work off the rust, shake of the demons, you know," Abbott said, per Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News. "We all know that I have a lot of demons!”

Jason Brown is the other alternative for the U.S. team in the free skate. Brown, 19, finished behind Abbott at the U.S. Figure Skating championship in Boston last month. Brown performed exceptionally in the free skate, but Abbott had built a huge lead in the short program, and he could not be caught.

Abbott is likely to retire at the end of this competition. However, he wants to go out on top, and he knows that this is his last opportunity to get the glory that eluded him in the past. 

"I have a very small window," he told the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), "and I want to seize the moment and then walk away with what I have."