Figure skating has been one of the most highly anticipated, most-watched Olympic events for a great while. During the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, it is no different. Whether it be an individual or pairs event, male figure skaters have continued to impress with their astonishing mix of strength, agility and grace.
As the Olympic Games continue, several of these athletes deserve a large amount of attention. From the remaining team events taking place on Sunday to the individual events going on through Feb. 17, the men will continue to provide exhilarating routines.
Let's take a closer look at the athletes to watch throughout the 2014 Olympic Games.
Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan
Hanyu hasn't been a staple in the men's singles events for very long; however, at only 19 years of age, he has already accomplished so much.
As a junior, he took home gold medals in the men's singles events at the Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in 2009-10 in Tokyo and the 2010 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in The Hague.
After his years as a junior, he found early success in Sochi when he received a silver medal in the 2012-13 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. The following year, he came away with a gold medal in the same event in Fukuoka. That was his last event until this year's Olympics.
So far, he has continued to dazzle. He dominated the men's singles short program with a score of 97.98—besting the remaining competition by over six points. Hanyu is slated to take the ice again on Sunday during the men's free skate.
Yevgeny Plushenko, Russia
Unlike Hanyu, Plushenko has been around for quite some time. The 31-year-old athlete has been dazzling audiences since his days as a junior skater when he took home the gold medal in the 1997 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Seoul.
Since then, he has accumulated one gold medal in the Goodwill Games, four gold medals in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, seven gold medals in the European Figure Skating Championships, three gold medals in the World Figure Skating Championships and one gold medal in the 2006 Olympics in Turin.
Plushenko has found additional success in the Olympics, as he took home silver medals in 2002 in Salt Lake City and 2010 in Vancouver.
So far in 2014, Plushenko finished second to Hanyu in the men's singles short program with a score of 91.39. He will skate again on Sunday in the men's free skate event—his area of expertise and his moment to shine.
Patrick Chan, Canada
Chan is another young, up-and-coming skater who has given strong performances over his short career. Like other skaters, he started logging medals in junior competitions—Chan took home the silver medal in the 2007 World Junior Figure Skating Championships from Oberstdorf.
However, that was just the start for Chan.
No stranger to gold medals, Chan has accumulated plenty over a short duration. He accumulated two gold medals in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, two gold medals in the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and three gold medals in the World Figure Skating Championships—all in men's singles events.
Overall, in a seven-year span, Chan brought home a total of 11 medals. He has yet to medal in an Olympic event due to the fact that the 2014 Olympics is Sochi is his first experience on such a stage. However, he got off to a fine start with a score of 89.71 in the men's short program.
During an interview with the South China Morning Post, Chan credits his Asian heritage for his will to win:
Chinese culture is very different, it's unique, you work incessantly. It's a quality that we all have but what's not good is that Chinese parents are very strict, above all with school. Luckily both my parents adore sport, they weren't really strict with my results [at school]. I know Chinese parents who say 'if you don't get an 'A' you won't be allowed to skate.' But for me sport takes priority over school. My parents knew how to balance the Chinese cultural influence and North American.
Canada currently ranks second in points in the team figure skating events, and Chan is one of the main reasons why the country has found so much success.
Charlie White, United States
Unlike the aforementioned competitors, White is an ice dancing specialist. He skates with a female partner—mainly Meryl Davis—in a ballroom dancing-meets-figure skating showcase. White is a fluid skater who is extremely polished and possesses incredible upper body strength.
At just 26 years of age, White has found tremendous success throughout his ice dancing career.
Since 2007, White has accumulated a large number of gold medals in ice dancing. He has six from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships (most recently from Boston earlier this year), five gold medals from the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, three gold medals from the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and two gold medals from the World Figure Skating Championships.
This is White's second Olympics, as he and partner Meryl Davis finished with a silver medal in 2010 in Vancouver.
White will look to cap off the 2014 Olympics with yet another gold medal, as he was tremendous in the team short dance, earning a score of 75.98—surpassing his Canadian rivals by a full three points.
Asked how he feels about holding up Team USA in the figure skating competition during an interview with the Associated Press via Fox Sports, White remained humble, "We don't feel like we're trying to carry any sort of burden or load. We're counting on the whole team to pull through together and I think that's what makes us such a strong team."
Scott Moir, Canada
Like White, Moir specializes in ice dancing. He is currently paired with partner Tessa Virtue for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Moir has also accomplished so much in a short time, as he is just 27 years old.
Even as a junior, Moir earned two gold medals—one in the 2005-06 Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and one in the 2006 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.
After that, Moir dominated in the Canadian ranks, earning five gold medals in seven appearances in the Canadian Figure Skating Championships. Moir has also found success on the international circuit. He took home two gold medals in the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and two gold medals in the World Figure Skating Championships.
His crown jewel of his figure skating career, however, was earning the gold medal in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver—besting the combination of Team USA's White and Davis.
When interviewed by Rosie DiManno of TheStar.com, Moir explained why he shared his intentions of earning a gold medal in the 2014 Olympics well before the event:
It's a delicate balance. For me, it's about being true to myself and being true to our goals and not being afraid to declare what you want. We said it before 2010 and people gasped, they weren't expecting it. Now I think the culture has changed a little bit.
Moir is right in the thick of things in Sochi. He and teammate Tessa Virtue scored a 72.98 in the team short dance event, which placed them second to the Americans.
Moir is set to take the ice again on Sunday, as he hopes to deliver a strong enough performance to keep Canada in front of the United States in the team competition.
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