Women's Figure Skating Olympics 2014: Previewing Ladies' Individual Event

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Women's Figure Skating Olympics 2014: Previewing Ladies' Individual Event
Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

It's time for skaters to enter the limelight all by themselves. 

With host-nation Russia taking home gold—silver for Canada and bronze for the United States—in the first-ever figure skating team competition on Day 2 in Sochi, focus can now shift back to the individuals. 

No more relying on teammates—unless, of course, you're in the pairs competitionfor anything other than moral support. No more combined scores across four separate events. No more team play. From here on out, it's simply the skaters, the ice and a bunch of unforgiving judges who will determine the final 12 medals. 

The ladies' individual event is typically the most popular and, as such, it's being saved for last in Sochi. 

Let's take a look at everything you need to know for the captivating event. 

 

Updated Medal Tracker

 

Women's Individual Schedule

2014 Olympics: Women's Figure Skating
Event Date Time (Local) Time (GMT) Time (ET)
Short Program Wed, Feb. 19 7 p.m. 3 p.m. 10 a.m.
Free Skate Thur, Feb. 20 7 p.m. 3 p.m. 10 a.m.

Sochi2014.com

Note: You can click here for a complete figure skating schedule (pairs, men, ice dance and women), courtesy of Sochi2014.com. 

 

The Favorite for Gold

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

South Korea isn't usually mentioned when it comes to powerhouses in this sport, as evidenced by its absence from the inaugural team event.

But there is little question Yuna Kim is currently the best women's figure skater in the world. 

The 23-year-old, who won gold at the South Korean Championships at the age of 13, burst onto the national scene in 2007, when she took home bronze at the World Championships in Tokyo. She won bronze again the following year but captured gold in Los Angeles in 2009 and did so once again in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympics.

She didn't just win gold in Canada, though. She put forth a transcendent performance, setting the world record in both short program (78.50) and free skate (150.06) to easily top two-time world champion Mao Asada. 

Over the last two days, Russia's teenage sensation Yulia Lipnitskaya has skated beautifully. But when the Golf Channel's Matt Ginella called her the best, Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch was quick to remind him of Kim's dominance in the sport:

Kim is coming off another gold at the World Championships in London last year, and it will take an upset to knock her off her throne. 

 

The Contenders

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Of course, that isn't meant to knock Lipnitskaya. Because much like Katniss and Alicia Keys, that girl is on fire. 

Helping carry Russia to gold in the team event, the 15-year-old Lipnitskaya won both the short program and free skate events. In the former, she knocked off the graceful Carolina Kostner and the previously mentioned world champion Asada, and in the latter, she topped American champion Gracie Gold. 

Should she win, the 2014 European champion would be just 10 days older than Tara Lipinski was when the American captured gold in 1998 at the Nagano Games. Lipinski currently holds the winter record for youngest female gold medalist in an individual event, per Olympic.org

So, whether or not she can find a way to defeat the veteran Kim, Lipnitskaya has already established herself as a superstar in this sport—and surely has many more medals headed her way in the future. 

Italy's Kostner and Japan's Asada, who finished second and third in the short program during the team event, will also be in the mix. 

 

The Americans

From 1992 through 2006 (five Games), the United States captured three gold, three silver and two bronze medals in this event. There was hardly ever any question that the Americans were the queens of figure skating. 

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

But last year, thanks to Kim and Asada, there was no American on the podium for the women's event. It was the first such instance since 1964. 

And with such a stacked field in Sochi, there's a chance that may happen again. 

But Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner are hardly women you should be ignoring. 

Gold, who won the U.S Championships in Boston last month, was tremendous during her free program run at the team event on Day 2 in Sochi. She was somewhat overshadowed by Lipnitskaya, but she helped the Americans to bronze in what was a strong Olympic debut for the 18-year-old.

And as she continues to get better, she has her sights set on another medal, per the New York Daily News' Flip Bondy:

"I think I'm getting my stride," Gold said. "I'm thrilled, definitely relieved. Each experience I learn something more about myself. Someone named Gold has never won gold, I'm told."

As for Wagner, she finished fourth in the short program but felt she did better than the 63.10 she received, via the Los Angeles Times' Chuck Schilken:

'I know roughly when I skate a good program where the score should end up,' said Wagner, who was penalized by the judges for an under-rotated triple-triple combination. 'So, yeah, to score that low was very disappointing for me.'

One is looking to continue the momentum after a tremendous debut. The other is going to be driven by a bit of revenge after feeling slighted during her own debut. Both (the duo finished fifth and sixth at the 2013 World Championships) will be in contention for jewelry. 

 

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