Winter Olympics Figure Skating 2018: Updated Picks, NBC Live-Stream Schedule

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2018

Nathan Chen performs during the men's free skate event at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

Figure skating at the 2018 Winter Olympics gets underway on Thursday night before Friday's opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The team event, which debuted four years ago, will kick off the event at the Gangneung Ice Arena with two disciplines.

The men's and pairs short programs will be contested on Thursday. Some of the world's best skaters will use their performances as a run-through for their respective competitions, while others are passing on the team event in order to stay 100 percent for the individual events next week.

         

NBC Live-Stream Schedule

Team Event Men's Short Program (8 p.m. ET. NBCOlympics.com)

Team Event Pairs Short Program (9:45 p.m. ET, NBCOlympics.com)

              

Picks

Yuzuru Hanyu To Skip Team Competition

The men's Olympic champion will skip the team competition in order to focus on defending his gold medal.

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu won't travel to South Korea until the weekend, per Nick McCarvel of NBCOlympics.com.

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu competes during the senior men's short programme at the ISU Grand Prix Rostelecom Cup in Moscow on October 21, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Yuri KADOBNOV        (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
YURI KADOBNOV/Getty Images

Hanyu suffered an ankle injury at the start of the season and didn't return to the ice until a few weeks ago.

The 23-year-old world champion is practicing in Toronto with his Canadian coach, Brian Orser, before heading to Pyeongchang ahead of next week's men's competition.

"He's back jumping and...the whole past week was really good," Orser said. "Every day he was getting stronger and stronger. He's training without pain, and being cautious and smart."

Although Hanyu would be an incredible asset for Japan in the team event, it makes sense for him to focus on himself with a gold medal defense on the line.

              

Nathan Chen Will Represent USA in Men's Short Program

One of Hanyu's top challengers for the men's throne will take to the ice on Thursday.

Nathan Chen of the United States was chosen as the men's short program participant, per Olympic sportswriter Philip Hersh.

US skater Nathan Chen practices at Gangneung Ice Arena ahead of the team event for the men figure skating before the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 7, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV        (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AF
MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images

The 18-year-old will be replaced by Adam Rippon in the free skate portion of the competition, a decision that was made by Rafael Arutunian, the coach of both skaters.

Chen, who is known for his quad jumps, is looking to put in a solid performance on Thursday to set his confidence up for the men's competition which starts on February 15.

A strong routine from the teenager should set the Americans up for a spot on the medal podium at the conclusion of the team event.

               

German Pair Looking to Shine

Germany won't be a contender for the medals in the team event, but its pairing of Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot could top the pairs short program portion of the competition.

Savchenko and Massot are the World Championship silver medalists in the pairs, and they are in need of a strong performance after skipping the European Championships.

Just like some of the men, Savchenko and Massot are using the short program of the team competition as a warmup before they chase their real goals in South Korea.

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 08:  Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany train ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 8, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Im
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

If they are at their best, the German pair will top the standings with plenty of other contenders jockeying for positions beneath them.

Among the pairs looking to make a lasting impact on the competition are Chris Knierim and Alexa Scimeca Knierim, who are the only American pairs team in Pyeongchang; Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford; and the Olympic Athletes of Russia duo of Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

             

Predictions

Men's Short Program

1. Nathan Chen, United States

2. Patrick Chan, Canada

3. Shoma Uno, Japan

            

Pairs Short Program

1. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot, Germany

2. Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov, Olympic Athletes of Russia

3. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao, China

              

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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