Men's Figure Skating Olympics 2014: Stars to Watch in Individual Competition

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Men's Figure Skating Olympics 2014: Stars to Watch in Individual Competition
Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

Few Winter Olympics sports, if any, create the type of drama that figure skating does.

Individual brilliance, grace and athleticism mixes with a subjective scoring system from judges in the perfect recipe for must-watch television at the 2014 Games. The brand new team competition is already in the books, with the host country Russia taking home the gold, Canada winning silver and the United States winning bronze—and the men’s competition is looming. 

Here is the schedule for the men’s individual event:

 

Men’s Short Program

Date: Thursday, Feb. 13

Time: 10 a.m. ET, 7 p.m. Sochi time and 3 p.m. GMT 

TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Network at 10 a.m. ET, NBC at 8 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC at 3 p.m. GMT

 

Men’s Free Skating

Date: Friday, Feb. 14

Time: 10 a.m. ET, 7 p.m. Sochi time and 3 p.m. GMT 

TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Network at 10 a.m. ET, NBC at 8 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC at 3 p.m. GMT

 

From an American perspective, a medal may be a long shot in Sochi.

Jo Ann Schneider of figureskating.about.com listed Jason Brown, who helped the United State win bronze in the team competition, as a name to watch, but there are plenty of other superstars to watch at this event.

Let’s dig into a discussion on some of them.

 

Patrick Chan, Canada

If there is a clear-cut favorite in the men’s figure skating event, it is Patrick Chan of Canada.

As Skate Canada pointed out, he was eager to get his time in Sochi underway:

Chan came up short in front of the home crowd in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, but all he has done since is land on the podium in every international competition he’s entered.

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Chan won the last three World Championships on the back of his athleticism and artistic abilities. However, the Axel jump, which is required in both the short and free skate programs, is the one thing that may hold him back. 

Assuming Chan doesn’t cost himself too much on the Axel attempts, he could be the one taking home the gold.

 

Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan

The only skater who has proved himself capable of defeating Chan recently is Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan.

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

He is slight in build but flies through the air on his jumps, often thrilling the crowd. 

Hanyu knocked off Chan at the 2013 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, took home the bronze at the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships and won the Japanese title in 2013. Hanyu may not have the illustrious resume in recent years that Chan does, but he is the biggest threat to the Canadian on the ice in Sochi.

 

Evgeni Plushenko, Russia

Evgeni Plushenko did not get to Sochi as the home country’s representative without some level of controversy.

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Plushenko, who is known for his confidence as an entertainer on the ice, was given Russia’s one entry even though he finished second at nationals and skipped the European Championships entirely. He has also dealt with back injuries recently, but appeared fine during the team competition in which he helped Russia win the gold.

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The biggest advantage the 2006 gold medalist will have is the backing of the home crowd, as he pointed out after the team competition, via NBCOlympics.com: "This games is the hardest for me. All the fans are cheering so hard that you literally cannot do badly because they do everything with you. You get goose bumps." 

The 31-year-old veteran now has two golds and two silvers after the team competition, which is a record for modern-era figure skaters. He will look to add to his legendary resume in the individual competition.

 

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