2014 Olympic Figure Skating: Preview and Predictions for Team Trophy Finals

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2014

2014 Olympic Figure Skating: Preview and Predictions for Team Trophy Finals

0 of 7

    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    After two days of excitement in figure skating's newest event at the Winter Olympics, the team competition, we have reached the climax on Sunday. 

    Five teams remain with the host Russians in charge by a commanding amount over Canada and the United States. 

    Sunday's program will feature the free skate for the men, women and the ice dancing pairs. 

    Continue reading for a complete preview of Sunday's action in the team competition. 

Overview

1 of 7

    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Team figure skating was introduced this year as a new event at the Winter Olympics. 

    The event brings the teams of skaters even closer together, while strategy is involved to decide which skaters will put up the best results in a pressure-packed scenario.

    The winner of each event receives 10 points with second place earning nine, third takes home eight and so on. 

    All four skating disciplines (men's, women's, pairs and ice dance) are involved with one program in each discipline performed by a member of the competing nation.

    After the short program, five nations (China, Great Britain, Ukraine, Germany and France) were eliminated from the event.

    The five teams that entered the free skate portion of the event were Italy, Russia, Canada, Japan and the United States. 

Schedule, TV and Live Stream Info

2 of 7

    Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

    The final leg of the event will begin at 10 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network with the men's free skate. 

    The women's free skate will take place at 11:05 a.m. ET, and the ice dance free program will go off at 12:05 p.m. ET from the Iceberg Skating Palace.

    All three events can be streamed through the NBC Sports Live Extra app or on NBCOlympics.com

How Did We Get Here?

3 of 7

    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The first day of competition kicked off with the men's short program, which was won by Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan with a score of 97.98.

    Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won the pairs short program, while Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the USA took home the ice dance first prize. 

    The women's short program saw 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya overwhelm the crowd with emotion as Russia took first place heading into the free skates.

    After those four events, five nations were eliminated as Great Britain, Germany, France, China and Ukraine did not do well enough to make their mark on the first team figure skating medal podium. 

    The first five free programs were performed in pairs on Saturday as the Russians won that event thanks to Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov.

    Russia holds a six-point advantage over second-place Canada, while the United States is seven behind with 34 points. 

    Italy sits in fourth with 31 points, and Japan has 30 points in fifth. 

Top Storylines

4 of 7

    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Russia's Quest for Figure Skating Dominance

    The Russians have a ton of pride in their home Olympics, and they are showing just how important winning on home soil is to them.

    Most of the Russian skaters have performed their hearts out over the past two nights, and that should not stop as we enter Sunday's programs. 

     

    Will Meryl Davis and Charlie White Be Forced to Rescue a Medal for the U.S.A.?

    Ice dancing duo Davis and White are hands down the top medal contenders in their event, as they showed in the ice dance short program on Saturday.

    With the ice dance free dance being the final of eight disciplines in the team figure skating event, Davis and White may have to rescue the medal hopes of the U.S.

    There are plenty of unknowns in the remainder of the U.S. lineup, but one thing is for sure, and that is Davis and White will dominate the ice dance when called upon. 

     

    Who Will Use Sunday as a Momentum Builder into Individual Events? 

    Sunday's stage gives 20 different skaters a chance to build momentum heading into the individual and ice dance events that will be contested over the next week-and-a-half. 

    If skaters deliver a spectacular performance on Sunday, they could easily put themselves into the conversation for gold in their specific event.

    As we all know, momentum is a funny thing, and it's better to have it on your side than to not have it at all. 

Who Are the Sleepers?

5 of 7

    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Sitting in fifth place with three events to go may seem like a disadvantage for Japan, but it is only four points off of the United States for the bronze-medal position. 

    The clear strength of the Japanese comes in the individual events, where they netted 18 points from in the short programs. 

    The good news for Japan is that the United States' weak point comes in the individual events. 

    If they can place ahead of the United States twice, the Japanese have a chance of earning their first medal in Sochi. 

Who Is the Favorite to Win Gold?

6 of 7

    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    The clear favorite to win gold after five events in the team competition is Russia. 

    There seems to be no weakness in the Russian figure skating team as it has just one third-place finish to partner with three wins and Evgeny Plyushchenko's second in the men's short program. 

    With a massive amount of momentum and a fierce sense of national pride behind the team at the moment, there is no way Russia will concede a six-point lead to Canada during the final three programs. 

Complete Medal Predictions

7 of 7

    Pool/Getty Images

    Gold: Russia

    Silver: Canada

    Bronze: United States

    The gold medal will go to Russia, no doubt.

    Canada has a solid enough lead on the United States to help it lock down the silver medal in the competition. 

    The United States should receive a strong performance from Davis and White to keep the Americans in the third spot on the medal podium. 

     

    For more Winter Olympics coverage, follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.