US Olympic Figure Skating 2014: Ranking America's Best Chances for the Podium

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US Olympic Figure Skating 2014: Ranking America's Best Chances for the Podium
Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

Heading into the last week of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, the figure skating event is coming to a close with only the ice dancing and ladies’ individual events left on the schedule. Fortunately for Team USA, there are still a number of skaters left who are more than capable of taking home the gold—or a medal at the very least.

Here’s a schedule of the remaining figure skating events, as well as a ranking of America’s three best chances of gracing the podium in Sochi.

Figure Skating Schedule
Date Time (Local) Time (EST) Event
Monday, Feb. 17 7 p.m. 10 a.m. Ice Dancing Free Dance
Wednesday, Feb. 19 7 p.m. 10 a.m. Ladies' Short Program
Thursday, Feb. 20 7 p.m. 10 a.m. Ladies' Free Skating

Sochi2014.com

 

3. Ashley Wagner

Ashley Wagner was a controversial inclusion to the U.S. Olympic team based on her dismal showing at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but she contributed to America’s bronze medal in the team portion of the figure skating event—finishing fourth in the ladies’ short program and netting seven points for the American cause.

That fourth-place score clearly wasn’t what she thought her performance deserved as she received the news with disbelief—in a facial expression that has now gone viral in a pandemic sense.

She’s entered the Olympics with a chip on her shoulder, determined to prove to all her doubters that she deserves her spot on the team:

She talked to Mary Pilon of the New York Times about how important that redemption is for her:

It was tough going out there after a disappointing Nationals so it was important for me to redeem myself. I got the triple-triple out there, so I’m pleased. It was a different kind of pressure because it’s a team event. I know what I’m capable of and what this program is capable of. I don’t agree with the marks, but that’s what the individual event is for.

Now, the individual event has rolled around and it’s Wagner’s time to strut her stuff. There are few things more dangerous in sports than an athlete with a chip on his or her shoulder, so Wagner definitely has the talent and motivation to surprise everybody and wind up on the podium.

That said, it would still be a surprise. The ladies’ group is loaded with elite talent, including defending champion Yuna Kim, Russian darling Julia Lipnitskaia and even her teammate Gracie Gold—who we’ll get to in a moment.

Wagner has the tools to bring home a second medal, but she’s a dark horse to do so.

 

2. Gracie Gold

The highly competitive field in the ladies’ individual event has already been discussed, and that makes what Gracie Gold has done so far that much more impressive.

Gold turned in a flawless performance in the team event, according to Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News:

But [Gold] went out on behalf of the U.S. team on Sunday and skated the best long program of her life, nailing all 11 jumps and scoring a career-best international mark of 129.36—second only to the Russian jumping bean, Julia Lipnitskaia.

Gold is right up there with the other big names in the mix for the gold medal, and it seems fairly likely that she will at least earn a medal in the individual event.

While the judges didn’t think much of Ashley Wagner’s routine, they were clearly impressed by Gold. That will help her moving forward, according to her coach Frank Carroll. Carroll told Bondy that her performance in the team event helps her, adding that “she skated really well and now [the judges] know she can skate like that.”

Gold is in excellent form after winning the national championship in Boston prior and then putting on a show in Sochi.

She’ll need to be perfect to rise above a stacked field and claim a medal befitting of her last name, but she looks like a good bet to at least make the podium when it’s all said and done.

 

1. Meryl Davis and Charlie White

Not only are Meryl Davis and Charlie White almost certain to bring home a medal in the ice dancing event, but they are the favorites to capture the gold. Their biggest challenger is the Canadian pair of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and both teams have dominated the ice dancing field in recent years.

The Canadians aren’t going away without a fight, but Davis and White are in excellent form and haven’t lost a competition in 22 months.

What’s more, the American duo got the better of Moir and Virtue in the team portion of the event and again in the short program phase of the ice dancing finals with a record-breaking score of 78.89.

Davis and White are completely in sync right now, and you have to like their chances of winning the gold, as they hold a 2.5-point lead heading into the free dance portion of the event.

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