After nearly two weeks of figure skating buildup at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which included team competition, men’s individual skates, pairs and ice dancing, the grand finale of figure skating arrives on Day 12 in the form of the ladies’ individual competition.
There are so many superstars in the field that even Japan’s Mao Asada, who won the silver medal in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, is being overlooked.
Household names such as Yuna Kim of South Korea and Gracie Gold of the United States are ready to test their mettle against the loaded field and position themselves for the free skate portion of the event.
Below is a schedule and television information for the short program.
Ladies’ Figure Skating 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
So, who will take control of the event before the medal-winning free skate round? Let’s dig into some predictions.
Short Program Predictions
First place: Yuna Kim, South Korea
Second place: Julia Lipnitskaia, Russia
Third place: Gracie Gold, United States
Kim is not only skating for a gold medal in Sochi but also for figure skating history.
If she wins, she will become the third woman to ever win consecutive gold medals in the discipline after Sonja Henie of Norway and Katarina Witt of East Germany.
When healthy, Kim is an absolute force on the ice. However, health is something of a concern after she missed weeks of training and the entire international Grand Prix circuit in the fall with a foot injury.
Despite the concern, Kim shines the brightest in the biggest moments. She won the World Championship in March after missing many of the season’s competitions and dazzled in Vancouver in 2010.
In fact, Kim is so dominant that her fellow competitors are often in awe of her, as Gold was when she called Kim a queen in a recent tweet:
Don’t let Gold’s admiration of Kim fool you into thinking the American can’t compete on the same level, though. Gold proved just how capable she is on the Olympic stage in the team competition when she placed second in the ladies’ free skate behind Julia Lipnitskaia.
Gold has unparalleled style and—pardon the pun—grace on the ice and is developing the confidence to match her talent after her U.S. championship and impressive performance in Sochi.
Gold is poised to become the breakout star of the Games in the United States if she can medal.
While Gold was excellent in the free skate portion of the team competition, Lipnitskaia was incredible and probably has the best chance to knock off Kim. She will have the support of the home crowd behind her and the momentum after her once-in-a-lifetime Olympic performance from earlier in the Games.
However, beating Kim will be much easier said than done, as 1992 Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi told Jere Longman of The New York Times: “To knock an Olympic champion off the top spot of the podium is going to take a lot…Yu-na will have to make mistakes for Lipnitskaya to beat her, but it’s possible.”
If Lipnitskaia demonstrates the athleticism, speed and pure jumping ability throughout the ladies’ individual event that she did in the team competition, she may make her host country proud with another Olympic gold.
If not, there are plenty of other superstar skaters eager to seize the moment and land atop the podium.
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