Two more figure skating events will reward medals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. In most cases, the rich will likely get richer.
While the new team events created some repetition—and a portal for the hosting nation to snatch up a gold medal—it also gave us an early look at what to expect during the rest of the Winter Olympics. Those who delivered hefty point totals for their country command the driver's seat.
In some cases, not having the burden of relying on less-talented teammates can play major dividends. But for the most part, the same people will draw duplicate visits to the podium, although their placement could vary.
With ice dancing and ladies' individuals left to play, nine new Olympians (three duos) will be crowned in the upcoming week. Nobody knows when an underdog will shock the world, but these favorites are the safe bets to exit Sochi with another medal.
|Feb. 16||Ice Dance - Short Dance||10 a.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Feb. 17||Ice Dance - Free Dance||10 a.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Feb. 19||Ladies - Short Program||10 a.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Feb. 20||Ladies - Free Skate||10 a.m.||NBC Sports Network|
Meryl Davis and Charlie White, United States
The pairing of Meryl Davis and Charlie White enters the ice dancing events as favored as anyone could possibly be. But hey, no pressure.
At least I didn't call them a sure thing to take home the gold. That job belongs to the New York Daily News' Filip Bondy.
There is no surer thing at the Olympics than Meryl Davis and Charlie White in ice dance. The Americans are the best in the world at an event in which few mistakes are made and judges rarely change their minds. Bet the house, bet the wife, bet the dog. If Davis and White lose, there's your Miracle on Ice.
Of course, nothing in this universe is a lock. One of them could fall and break a leg on their way to the ice. Perhaps they suffer food poisoning from consuming an unlimited amount of free McDonald's. Or maybe someone else just skates better.
But right now, Davis and White have earned the right to be considered overwhelming favorites to claim ice dancing gold.
Their 114.34 score in the team free dance set an Olympic record, but their first-place performances in that and the short dance only propelled Team USA to bronze. Now they're not reliant on any teammates, which clears the path for the world champions to earn their first Olympic gold.
Julia Lipnitskaia, Russia
On the individual frontier, Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia has to be considered the favorite after putting on a spectacular show during team play.
The 15-year-old became the youngest Russian gold medalist and second-youngest figure skating champion, six days older than Tara Lipinski. While that was part of a team performance, she carried the load with first-place finishes in the free dance and short program.
The teenager maneuvered her body like a pretzel while gracefully spinning around the ice with dazzling ease.Most human bodies are not capable of doing that. Especially not on super slippery ice.
She has not emerged without warning in Sochi; she won the World Junior Championships in 2013 and the 2014 European Championships. While girls her age are planning their sweet sixteens, Lipnitskaia has a chance to crush the top figure skaters the world has to offer and walk away with multiple gold medals. Not too shabby.
Gracie Gold, United States
While Gracie Gold fell short of her last name during the team events, she set the tone for a strong push to earn a medal on her own.
The 18-year-old put on a remarkable display in the free program, earning a 129.38 score that placed her 16.87 points ahead of Valentina Marchei, who earned eight points for Italy in third place.
Unfortunately for Gold, Lipnitskaia was even better.
Nevertheless, her strong showing put the finishing touches on the U.S. claiming the bronze medal. Now she'll square off against Lipnitskaia again, this time with individual glory at stake.
Already a growing darling among U.S. Olympic viewers, Gold can morph into the hero of the 2014 Winter Olympics by knocking off the Russian favorite—because there's nothing Americans love more than seeing a 15-year-old girl's dreams dashed in front of a worldwide audience.
Wait, let's try that again. There's nothing we love more than seeing a likable underdog come out on top while sporting our nation's colors. Yep, that's better.
Then again, silver could still make her the face of U.S. figure skating, which is huge for a teenager trying to best a younger teenager.