Winter Olympics Figure Skating 2014: Names to Watch in Ladies' Competition

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

In every Winter Olympics, the ladies’ figure skating competition always draws plenty of headlines, and that will be no different in Sochi. 

The event has become especially popular in the United States, creating household names such as Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski and Nancy Kerrigan, among others. There is a reason NBC covers it so extensively in its prime time television schedule.

Here is the full event and broadcasting schedule for the ladies’ competition in the 2014 Winter Olympics:

 

Ladies Short Program

Date: Feb. 19

Time: 10 a.m. ET, 7 p.m. Sochi time and 3 p.m. GMT

TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Network 10 a.m. ET, NBC 8 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC 3 p.m. GMT

 

Ladies Free Skating Program

Date: Feb. 20

Time: 10 a.m. ET, 7 p.m. Sochi time and 3 p.m. GMT

TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Network 10 a.m. ET, NBC 8:00 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC 3 p.m. GMT

 

So who will be the key names to watch when the ladies take the ice? Let’s dig into a discussion on a few of them.

 

Gracie Gold, United States

Prepare yourself now for the puns incorporating the defending U.S. Figure Skating Championship winner’s name because they are coming during these Olympics.

Gracie Gold brings just that to the ice—grace. Her style is mostly unparalleled in terms of American competitors who will be in Sochi, and she represents the United States’ best chance at a medal in the ladies’ competition. 

If the teenager can deliver on her promise, Gold has a chance to become one of the Games’ shining stars. She already landed the Sports Illustrated cover in the magazine’s Olympic preview issue before even taking the ice in Sochi. 

Gold was certainly appreciative of the recognition:

Marketability is one thing, but if Gold wants to win a medal to match her last name, she will have to navigate a loaded field that includes teammates Ashley Wagner, defending Olympic champion Kim Yu-na and Mao Asada among others.

 

Kim Yu-na, South Korea

Gold had the following to say about South Korea’s Kim leading up to the Olympics, via Brian Cazeneuve of Sports Illustrated:

“She's so smooth. She isn't just piecing jumps together; she has one complete program where everything flows together. It's beautiful and that's how I want to skate."

If your fellow competitors are that awe-inspired by you, then you are clearly doing something right. 

Kim completely dominated the 2013 World Championships and has experience winning the gold at the actual Olympics. She did just that in 2010 in Vancouver and is the odds-on favorite to repeat in Sochi. As long as Kim doesn’t make any mistakes and skates to her full potential, nobody else will be standing atop that podium after the free skating program.

 

Mao Asada, Japan

If Kim is the clear favorite, then Asada of Japan is her biggest challenger on paper. Not coincidentally, Asada won the silver medal when Kim won the gold in the last Olympics.

Asada, much like Kim is in South Korea, is a notable celebrity in her home country and would be widely heralded if she came home with an Olympic championship in Sochi. While that puts some additional pressure on her shoulders, Asada is more than used to it and counts multiple world titles and Grand Prix event victories on her resume.

The key to beating Kim for Asada may be the triple axel, which only appears in her program periodically. Considering the stage and the talent level of Kim and the other competitors, it would be a surprise if Asada didn’t include it when she hits the ice in Sochi.

 

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