Pj's Preview: Team figure skating event, men's and pairs'
'This is going to be fun'
For the first time in Olympic figure skating history, skaters will skate as a team. I know it’s a bit tricky to wrap your brain around solo athletes working together, but stick with me.
This is going to be fun.
The first thing to know is that it is an event in which the top 10 figure skating nations go head to head. Each of these countries fields one entry in the short program in each of the four disciplines (men’s, ladies’, pairs and ice dance.) Skaters are awarded points based on their placement; first is worth 10 points, second worth nine points, and so on. The placement points for the four short program performances are added together and the top five nations then go on to skate the free.
I wasn’t sure about all of this, given my loner mentality and all, but I have to tell you the concept has grown on me. I love the aspect of the placement points because it means that there is no way any skater’s performance marks can be inflated to give somebody a mathematical advantage. Scoring one million in the short program can only give a skater a maximum of 10 points if they win.
The 10 nations that qualified were announced at the end of the Grand Prix Final in December, and include:
• The United States.
• Great Britain.
The competition gets under way Thursday with the men’s and pairs’ short programs.
Who will skate which program?
For the moment, only the men and pair entries have been announced as the rules state that it isn’t required for the countries to name their representatives until the day before they skate which only heightens the drama.
I love the drama. I have to tell you that the first two short program events may give us a piece of the puzzle for what is to come. In my mind the podium will be made up of three from the following four countries: Russia, Canada, the United States and Japan.
The inaugural men’s short program in the team event contains the brilliant but inconsistent U.S. skater Jeremy Abbott; the current Grand Prix Final champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, of Japan; the current and defending three-time World champion, Canada’s own Patrick Chan, and the two-time Olympic silver medallist and 2006 Olympic champion, Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko.
It will be a veritable clash of the Titans.
I am equally excited about the pairs’ short program which will give Canadian champions and reigning world bronze medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford the chance to see how close they can get to world champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, who will be skating on home ice.
Talk about putting your best skate forward.
I have been playing around with the placement points and different scenarios with where skaters might end up after the short. With the ladies and ice dancers not yet confirmed, I am going at this point with what I think rather than what I know as far as my predictions.
I think Russia is the team to beat on paper anyway with their biggest challenge coming from the Canadian team.
For the time ever, here is a Special Team Event Edition of PJ'S PODIUM PICKS: