The early portion of the figure skating scene at the Winter Olympics in Sochi has been dominated by the host country, but America has a great shot at bringing home some hardware in the coming days.
The Russians claimed the gold medal in the inaugural Olympic team skating competition before the duo of Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar won the pairs competition. Meanwhile, the men's competition got underway Thursday and was marked by a record 101.45-point performance from Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu in the short program.
As for American success, the U.S. team finished third in the team competition, top pair Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir placed ninth, and Jason Brown is sitting sixth after the men's short program with a score of 86.00.
All of the remaining figure skating events will be broadcast live online and on NBC Sports Network in America, while you can also watch the best action during NBC's prime-time programming each night. Visit Sochi2014.com for complete event information and NBCOlympics.com for TV listings.
Here's the upcoming event schedule for figure skating, with a look at America's top contenders to win medals in the ice dancing and women's competitions.
|Ice Dance||Short Dance||Sun., Feb. 16||10 a.m.||NBC SN|
|Ice Dance||Free Dance||Mon., Feb. 17||10 a.m.||NBC SN|
|Women's||Short Program||Wed., Feb. 19||10 a.m.||NBC SN|
|Women's||Free Skating||Thu., Feb. 20||10 a.m.||NBC SN|
Ice Dancing: Meryl Davis and Charlie White
Following their stunning performance in the team competition's ice dancing section, long-time skate partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the favorites to win the gold in the two-day event.
Last week, Davis and White posted a world record of 114.34 points in the ice dance portion of the event, propelling the United States to the bronze medal.
After her scintillating program, Davis told Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press that the duo is feeling good going into to the competition which begins with the short dance on Sunday:
Of course, it’s a confidence boost. As an athlete, you always want to feel secure. You always want to feel stronger than the day before. That’s what (Saturday) did for us. We felt strong. We feel ready. And we feel more prepared, possibly, than we ever have for an event.
Davis and White have been skating together for 17 straight years, since they were just grade school kids growing up in Michigan. Joe Posnanski of NBC Sports detailed the unique and long relationship between the two skaters:
They have been ice dancing together since they were 10 years old, so by now Meryl Davis and Charlie White finish each others’ flourishes and sense each other’s moods and reflect each other’s rhythms. The way they mirror each others steps, even in the meticulous world of ice dancing, is eerie, as if they’re connected by string.
After winning the silver medal in Vancouver in 2010, this pair looks poised to bring home the gold from Sochi. But they'll have to overcome the Canadian tandem of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who finished first four years ago and are still going strong.
Women's Free Skating: Gracie Gold
Looking at her last name, it's no wonder why Gracie Gold has become a popular American athlete during the Winter Games. But she also has the credentials and recent success that make her a major contender to medal in Sochi.
This event is expected to be something of a two-woman duel for gold between Korea's "Queen" Yuna Kim and 15-year-old Russian sensation Julia Lipnitskaia. Meanwhile, Gold leads a host of other candidates, like Japan's Mao Asada, trying to reach the podium, too.
The budding 18-year-old American star made her Olympic debut last week during the team competition and placed second in the free skate behind Lipnitskaia with a score of 129.38.
Gold arrived in Sochi with a lot of momentum, as she also won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston earlier this year.
Women's Short Progam: Ashley Wagner
Joining Gold as a legit medal contender in the women's competition is Ashley Wagner, who has already made waves so far during the Winter Games.
Wagner competed in the short program for Team USA and appeared to be pleased with her routine. So when she found out her score was only 63.10 points, good for fourth place, Wagner had this memorable reaction:
She has embraced the moment, retweeting the photo sent to her by some followers on Twitter.
Wagner, 22, has endeared herself to figure skating fans with her sense of humor in addition to her talent on the ice. She also gives the inside scoop on what it's truly like to be an Olympian:
Wagner is certainly capable of medaling in Sochi, but she'll have to rebound from her performance in Boston, where she fell twice, opening the door for Gold. Between these two women, America has a couple of stars in the making.