U.S. Olympic Figure Skating 2014: Analyzing Medal Hopes for Remaining Americans

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2014

Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States compete in the ice dance short dance figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

Thus far at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the United States only counts one medal on the figure skating ice to its collective resume.

Jason Brown was the best finisher at ninth place in the men’s individual competition, while the Americans in the pairs contest finished in ninth and 12th respectively. The one appearance on the podium was a group effort in the figure skating team competition, in which the Americans placed third. 

Have no fear, though, because the Red, White and Blue’s best medal chances are still to come.

Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White dazzled the crowd in their short dance and grabbed a commanding 2.56-point lead over the second-place Canadians. While Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates placed in eighth and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani finished in ninth, Davis and White are the clear favorites for gold.

After the ice dancing, all attention will turn to the ladies.

Olympic darling Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner present the best medal opportunities for the United States in that competition.

Here is the remaining schedule for the figure skating contests:


Ice Dancing: Free Dance

Date: Monday, Feb. 17

Time: 10 a.m. ET, 7 p.m. Sochi time and 3 p.m. GMT

TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Network at 10 a.m. ET, NBC at 8 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC at 3 p.m. GMT


Ladies Short Program

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 19

Time: 10 a.m. ET, 7 p.m. Sochi time and 3 p.m. GMT 

TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Network at 10 a.m. ET, NBC at 8 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC at 3 p.m. GMT


Ladies Free Skate

Date: Thursday, Feb. 20

Time: 10 a.m. ET, 7 p.m. Sochi time and 3 p.m. GMT 

TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Network at 10 a.m. ET, NBC at 8 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC at 3 p.m. GMT


Medal Chances

Meryl Davis and Charlie White

At this point, there really can’t be better medal chances heading into an event than those staring back at Davis and White going into the free dance.

In a sport that is often decided by fractions of a point, the Americans separated themselves from Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada by 2.56. As long as Davis and White skate a clean program, there will be no stopping them from standing atop the medal podium.

Their coach, Marina Zoueva, was astounded by their performance and told reporters so in comments that were passed along by Nancy Armour of USA Today:

They fly. You can see at the same time where they're strong and so light and at the same time, so flowing. I didn't see any moment that was forced. I really enjoyed the performances. They really did the best this program can be done, with so much joy.

As for the other American dancers in eighth and ninth place, it would take an absolute collapse from a number of competitors higher in the standings for either pair to medal.

That’s more of a comment on the excellence in the field than any lacking skills from the Americans.

Davis and White, as well and Virtue and Moir, are almost assured a medal. Throw in the formidable dancers from Russia who are in third and the dangerous French pair who are right in the race at fourth, and the United States will have to settle for one medal in the ice dancing competition.


Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner

Gold has been on a roll as of late. 

She won the most recent U.S. Championships, graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated Olympics preview article and finished second in the ladies’ free skate portion of the team event in these Games. Her style on the ice is virtually unparalleled, and it has been clear in Sochi that she is bound for superstardom.

As for Wagner, she placed fourth in the most recent U.S. Championships and had to be selected to the team on the back of her career achievements. She is a two-time U.S. champion and is certainly on the short list of best skaters in the world.

She was certainly excited to be heading to Sochi:

Wagner was disappointed with her scores in the ladies’ short program portion of the team competition, which sparked an expression of disappointment that went viral quickly.

While Gold and Wagner are both capable of medaling, the ladies’ field is loaded with talent.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15:  Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds of the United States attend a Team USA press conference during Day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Main Press Center (MPC) on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Phot
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Defending Olympic champion Yuna Kim of South Korea was the favorite heading to the Games, and Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia has been absolutely incredible in Sochi. Mao Asada of Japan is also a legitimate threat to win the gold.

Behind the support of the home crowd and the momentum she established with multiple skates-of-a-lifetime in the team contest, look for Lipnitskaia to win the gold. That would slide Kim to the silver position and leave the bronze up for grabs. 

Gold, who is coming off the U.S. championships and has been skating better than Wagner in Sochi, will take the bronze with a clutch performance. Her confidence is at an all-time high, and she will deliver when it is most needed.