After an exciting conclusion to the men's free program on Friday, it's time for the ladies to shine. We witnessed plenty of dazzling performances from the younger skaters in the team event, and now these up-and-coming stars are set to take the ice once again in the individual competition.
Judging by the near-flawless routines that were on display by the ladies earlier during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, expect the intensity and drama to ramp up heading into the individual short program. There's plenty of fierce competitors in the field, and these athletes will have to be on point if they intend to earn a score that will help them reach the podium.
Earning a medal in this event will not only be important for these individuals, but for their countries as well. There is a very tight race between multiple countries in the overall medal count, and this event could help add some separation in the field:
Let's take a closer look the the schedule for the upcoming ladies' short program event, as well as give some insight into the top skaters and a prediction for how the round will ultimately shake out.
What: Ladies' Short Program
When: Wednesday, Feb. 19
Where: Iceberg Skating Palace
TV Time: 10 a.m. ET
Live Stream: NBCOlympics.com
Once the team ladies' free skating event reached its conclusion, we saw two young performers distance themselves from the rest of the pack. Russia's 15-year-old sensation Julia Lipnitskaia and 18-year-old Gracie Gold of the United States finished well ahead of the rest of the field:
|2||Gracie Gold||United States||129.38|
Yulia steals the show! pic.twitter.com/TbchVNL8Md— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 10, 2014
If the individual competition proceeds in the same manner, we could be simply looking at a battle for the bronze medal. With scores of 141.51 and 129.38, Lipnitskaia and Gold appear to be on a completely different level.
Or are they?
This time around these two teenagers will be facing the reigning Olympic ladies' figure skating champion, Yuna Kim of South Korea.
Earning the gold medal in this event in 2010 in Vancouver and keeping her hot streak going with another gold medal in the 2013 World Championships, Kim has been one of the most dominant figure skaters in the world.
Kim isn't fazed by the hot hand of Lipnitskaia. During an interview with Nancy Armour of USA Today, she simply stated how different these Olympic Games are for the two of them, "These Winter Games are different for her. For me, it's my last and for Lipnitskaia, it's her first. So the meaning of the Olympics is different."
Needless to say, the intensity will be at an all-time high during this program, as these ladies will fight for position heading into the free program.
Other names to watch from North America in this event are Canada's Kaetlyn Osmund and America's Ashley Wagner. Neither is a favorite to reach the podium, but both are strong enough skaters to string together a solid-enough performance to become a factor.
It will all come down to the reigning champion against the teenagers here. The three are the strongest skaters that will take the ice and will continue to provide dazzling routines. The competition should be a close one as these athletes head into the free program; however, the top three positions in the wake of the short program will look like this:
First Position: Julia Lipnitskaia
Second Position: Yuna Kim
Third Position: Gracie Gold