The individual men's figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics in Sochi got off to a rousing start on Thursday, as Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu set a new world record with a score of 101.45 points in the short program. Visit NBCOlympics.com to view a full replay of the competition.
In the process, Hanyu became the first man to ever eclipse the 100-point barrier in short program figure skating, setting himself up nicely for the free skate, which will determine the 2014 gold medalist.
Friday's long spectacle will be broadcast live online and on NBC Sports Network from 10 a.m. ET to 2:15 p.m. ET in the United States, while it will also be showcased in NBC's prime-time coverage (8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT) later in the evening.
Here's all of the necessary viewing info plus a look at the complete starting order for the free skate portion of the competition. You can also visit Sochi2014.com for more information about this event.
Event: Men's Figure Skating Free Program
Where: Sochi, Russia
When: Friday, Feb. 14
Time: 10 a.m. ET (8 p.m. ET)
Live TV: NBC Sports Network (NBC prime time)
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra
|Feb. 14 Men's Free Skate Starting Order|
|3||PHI||Michael Christian Martinez||19||64.81|
This competition lost some star power on Thursday, when four-time medalist and four-time Olympian Evgeni Plushenko bowed out of the competition in ceremonious fashion. The 31-year-old had shined during the team event earlier in the Winter Games but his body wouldn't allow him to compete.
Clutching his achy back, Plushenko took to the ice before doing something of a victory lap in front of his home fans, before moving his hand over his heart.
It marked an emotional goodbye for the Russian, whose withdrawal was met with mixed reaction, as he essentially wasted his country's only men's figure skating berth for personal benefit.
Still, after winning gold in 2006, silvers in 2002 and 2010 and helping his country to gold last week, Plushenko has cemented his legacy as one of the best Olympic figure skaters ever.
Now that the elder statesman has left the competition, the usual young suspects are atop the leaderboard after the short program.
Perhaps no one is surprised that the top three heading into the free skate features Hanyu, Canada's Patrick Chan and Spain's Javier Fernandez. But with the unprecedented success that Hanyu had on Thursday, he also has nearly a four-point lead over Chan (97.52) and a big cushion over Fernandez (86.98).
Hanyu has all of the momentum right now, but Chan, the three-time reigning world champion, said he's looking forward to Friday's challenge, per the Toronto Star.
Given the scores, it's essentially a two-man competition for the gold Friday, with Hanyu holding the upper hand. Looking at their career bests in the free skate, it could be a tight competition.
Back at the Grand Prix event in November, Chan set a personal record with a score of 196.75 in the free skate. Just weeks later at another Grand Prix competition, Hanyu posted a career-best mark of 193.41.
As for the rest of the field, Fernandez is the leading candidate in a tight pack of skaters that will likely be vying for the bronze medal. Among Fernandez's competitors for a spot on the podium is American Jason Brown, who is currently sitting sixth at 86.00.
With a couple of different tight medal battles to watch, including one for the gold medal, Friday's men's figure skating finale promises to have some drama.