US Women's Olympic Figure Skating 2014: Storylines to Watch After Team Event

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2014

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 09:  Gracie Gold of the United States competes in the Team Ladies Free Skating during day two of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Iceberg Skating Palace onon February 9, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The team portion of figure skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia is over, where the U.S. women's team helped their country to a bronze medal.

Specifically, the women's team, led by Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner, performed well and provided a much-needed boost considering the country entered Day 1 in seventh place.

Wagner posted a fine performance on Day 1, while Gold's Olympic debut was the talk of the country after Day 2.

With individual competitions set to start in a little more than a week, a few storylines are worthy of fans' attention.


Can Gracie Gold Keep Her Current Form?

Gold entered Sochi as the face of the team after a U.S. Championship gold in Boston in January, so expectations for the 18-year-old star were extremely high going into her first Olympic Games.

Despite the scope of the event with the world watching (literally), Gold responded with a dominant showing in the women's free event with a second-place score of 129.38.

Gold helped to cement the bronze for the United States, and in the process, she answered questions as to whether or not she would be able to perform at an elite level on such a stage.

Gold's career-best free skate score surely generates a lot of momentum, but there is a lengthy dull period before the next event. She has the look of a podium-bound star on an individual basis, but fans will want to watch and see how it plays out.


Will Ashley Wagner Respond Well After Controversy?

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 08:  Ashley Wagner of the United States competes in the Figure Skating Team Ladies Short Program during day one of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Iceberg Skating Palace on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Matthew S
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Look, there was not any real controversy surrounding Ashley Wagner, but fans can bet she feels slighted after a fourth-place finish in the team short program on Day 1.

Wagner finished with a 63.10, a good .97 points behind Japan's Mao Asada, who fell during her set and still managed a third-place finish. Wagner was clearly taken aback by her score:

No matter, as Wagner handled the strange situation well outside of her initial reaction, via NBC's Nick McCarvel:

It is easy to understand why Wagner reacted as she did. After all, she has taken a backseat to Gold in the U.S. picture and was a controversial selection to the team in the first place after being in poor form leading up to the Games.

Wagner now has a strong performance to build off of going forward and a semblance of redemption, as USA Today's Christine Brennan illustrates:

Her past international prowess got her on the team and to this point, but like Gold, she has a long road ahead if she is to help the women's team become relevant again on a global scale.


Will the US Women's Team Be Revitalized?

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 09: (L-R) Figure skaters Marissa Castelli, Ashley Wagner and Jeremy Abbott cheer as teammate Jason Brown of the United States competes in the Men's Figure Skating Men's Free Skate during day two of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics a
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That would be the ultimate question.

While things look good now thanks to Wagner and Gold, this is a team that has suffered after legends like Michelle Kwan left. The low point was perhaps in Vancouver, where the U.S. failed to see a woman take the podium.

But there is hope that these Games are different. Gold herself recently admitted, via of the L.A. Times, that she believes she can reach the podium:

I think I definitely have a shot at being in the top. I don’t want to say a number or anything. It’s definitely going to be kind of do what I did at nationals but at the Olympics, so a little bigger, a little bolder, a little better.

So far, so good. A bronze in the team event is a start, but anything short of a podium appearance by a member of the U.S. women's team in the coming weeks will make Sochi a failure.


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