Host country Russia took home its first of what it hopes to be many gold medals in the team figure skating event, which made its Olympic debut in these 2014 Games.
The brand new competition combined points earned in the men’s short program, pairs short program, ice dancing short program, ladies’ short program, pairs free skate, men’s free skate, ladies’ free skate and ice dancing free skate to determine the medals.
Following Russia with the silver was Canada, with the United States taking home the bronze.
Figure skating is always one of the most popular disciplines at the Winter Olympics, and the new team competition was no exception. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin made his way to the crowded arena to take in the spectacle.
Let’s delve into some of the key takeaways from the team competition.
Individual Brilliance for Russians
The Russian team completely dominated throughout every portion of the event and never finished worse than third in any discipline.
Leading the way was the 31-year-old veteran Evgeny Plushenko, who had the second-best finish in the men’s short program and the best finish in the men’s free skate, and 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia, who had the best scores in both the ladies’ free and short programs.
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Lipnitskaia was simply happy to come through for her teammates (via ESPN.com): "I was calm. I'm happy with my marks, the scores overall, for the team and for all of Russia. I am so pleased all the country could help me…My main motivation today, was not to let the team down."
Plushenko, who is known as an extremely confident entertainer on the ice, visibly enjoyed the cheers from the home fans. He now has two gold medals and two silver medals, which is a record for modern-era skaters.
While Plushenko was brilliant for much of the competition, the main story was the teenager Lipnitskaia, who is likely setting the groundwork for what is to become a brilliant career.
The United States team performed solidly throughout the competition and received a boost from Gracie Gold’s second-place finish in the ladies’ free skate, but it was the ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis that carried the squad.
The world champions posted the best scores in both the short and free dances, and were clearly the best ice dancers at the event.
The competitors seemed to enjoy the event as well, and if White’s comments to Jim Caple of ESPN.com are any indication, the event will be back in four years:
I think it's a lot of fun. Having grown up playing hockey, I think you get a little extra something when you know there are others relying on you and you know that you have the support of your teammates. Obviously, Meryl [Davis] and I are lucky to be there for one another, but I think in a broader scale it really brings something exciting to the sport.
I know we've really enjoyed being a part of it and would love to see it stick around.
Canada took home the silver medal even though the country did not win a single individual segment.
The fact that the Canadians were able to garner enough total points throughout the event without any individual brilliance is a testament to the team’s overall consistency.
Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, who train with Americans White and Davis, were the most impressive with two second-place finishes in the ice dancing programs. Much like Gold in the ladies’ free skate going up against Lipnitskaia, the Canadian ice dancers were simply overshadowed by an incredible performance.
Next Up on the Ice
Figure skating is far from over in these 2014 Olympics.
Many of the key players in the team competition will be facing off against each other again in the individual events, including Gold and Lipnitskaia in the ladies’ event and the ice dancers of Canada and the United States.
The ladies’ event will provide plenty of intrigue, as Lipnitskaia will have tons of momentum from her excellent performances in the team competition going up against Gold. Other names to watch in that event will be Kim Yu-na of South Korea and Mao Asada of Japan.
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