Can anyone beat the Russians in figure skating?
After the host nation took gold in the inaugural team event earlier in the week, Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar made it two-for-two with an absolutely transcendent performance in the pairs event.
Although there was no catching that duo, which nearly broke its own world record, Fedor Klimov and Ksenia Stolbova took silver, giving Russia three of a possible four figure skating medals so far.
The Russians shockingly won just two medals—and zero golds—at the Vancouver Games, but it's clear they are back on top of the figure skating world.
Up next in their attempt to sweep Sochi is the men's singles event. Evgeni Plushenko, who won silver in 2010, is a good bet to continue Russia's momentum, but this showdown will undoubtedly be much closer than the opening two events.
Updated Medal Tracker
Men's Singles Schedule
|Event||Date||Time (Local)||Time (GMT)||Time (ET)|
|Short Program||Thur, Feb. 13||7 p.m.||3 p.m.||10 a.m.|
|Free Skate||Fri, Feb. 14||7 p.m.||3 p.m.||10 a.m.|
Note: You can click here for the men's singles schedule and results, courtesy of Sochi2014.com
It would be downright disrespectful to start this section with anyone other than Plushenko.
After helping Russia to gold in the team competition, the 31-year-old Russian now has four career Olympic medals (two gold and two silver). Should he stand on the podium in the men's singles for the fourth Games in a row, he would pass Sweden's Gillis Grafstrom as the most decorated figure skater of all-time.
Who is going to win gold?
Considering he finished second in the short program and first during the free program of the team portion, it's a good bet he does exactly that.
Giving Russia a third figure skating gold in a row, though, will be much more difficult.
Canada's Patrick Chan has taken gold at the World Championships three years in a row, while 19-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan won the team short program with a thrilling 97.98. Chan holds the world record for combined score, but Hanyu has been creating some unbelievable buzz in practice.
"For sure, (Hanyu) has a good shot, said 2010 Olympic champion Evan Lysacek, who had to drop out of this event due to a labrum tear, via icenetwork.com's Lynn Rutherford. "He's got the edge after his brilliant short."
Expect these three on the podium on Friday. The exact order, though, is anyone's guess.
If someone is going to follow in Lysacek's footsteps and climb the podium for the United States, it's going to take an upset.
Although he ended up winning bronze, four-time United States champion Jeremy Abbott would probably like to erase the team competition from his memory. He fell during his first jump, falling to seventh place in the short program.
In addition to the major disappointment, that disaster brought on harsh criticism, like this from the Chicago Tribune's Phillip Hersh:
Same old Jeremy Abbott in a big global event. Falls on first jump— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) February 6, 2014
But unlike previous Winter Games, Abbott has an immediate chance at redemption, and he has left the Olympic village in order to better concentrate and prepare.
He talked about his reasoning for that decision, via Hersh:
"It is very easy to lose time and structure inside the (Olympic) Village. There is so much going on. It felt more like summer camp than an Olympic Games. It’s kind of like Neverland, where time just doesn’t exist, and you’re a kid forever. It’s an amazing feeling, but it wasn’t very conducive to my individual needs."
Jason Brown suffered a similar fate as Abbott during his free program, as he fell during his routine and dropped to fourth place out of five competitors.
Abbott and Brown clearly have plenty of motivation after unspectacular showings, but combine their lack of international success with the extremely high level of competition, and it looks like they'll be leaving Sochi with just one medal.