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    Pj Kwong

    About Pj Kwong

    With more than 25 years of coaching experience, Pj Kwong is one of Canada's best known figure skating experts. She has worked with CBC Sports as a commentator and analyst since 2007.

Figure Skating

Pj Kwong - Monday Feb. 10, 2014 12:07

Team figure skating event? I give it an A

More than just a lukewarm preview of individual events

Team Canada figure skating group hug
Canada's figure skating team has a group hug after winning silver in the team event at the Sochi Olympics on Sunday. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The team figure skating event wrapped up yesterday and I am as surprised as anybody to admit: I am a believer.

At first glance I thought it would just be a lukewarm preview of what we might be seeing later on and that the skaters might just be going through the “my mother is making me do this” motions. From where I was sitting nothing could have been further from the truth. The skaters appeared in it to win it.

The final results were what I predicted with Team Russia taking the gold, Team Canada taking the silver and Team USA the bronze.

If there is an upside in all of this it was the chance for skaters to work out the kinks. Patrick Chan, for example, was weaker than he would have liked in his short program with errors in two of his jump elements. What I have noticed about Chan is that the more he skates, the better he seems to be. So this dry run may turn out to be to his advantage.

What is noteworthy in all of this were the ‘moments’ for me along the way:

- Team Italy’s jubilant reaction to Carolina Kostner’s divine Lori Nichol short program and making it into the top 5 nations and qualify for the free skate.

- The crowd’s reaction to the ever charismatic Evgeni Plushenko and my own to his speed and outstanding quality of his jumps in the short program. (Especially his Quad/Triple combination.)

- Kevin Reynolds landing three quads in his free program including one in combination and the extraordinary growth in his on ice presence.

- Both Canadian pair teams: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford in the short program and Kirsten-Moore Towers and Dylan Moscovitch in the free skate turning up the heat on the competition.

- Julia Lipnitskaia (jaw still dropped.)

- Team Canada joyously jumping up together on to the podium during the flower ceremony.

There was a lot of talk before the event that this would be too taxing on the skaters. I don’t minimize the stress that it must create to have to figure out a way to be up for another competition. On balance though, it doesn’t seem to have been too hard on the athletes, any more than the old qualifying rounds used to be.

From a point of view purely as a spectator, I was asked if I thought seeing the skaters skate the same programs twice would be boring. If you are a fan: NO. Like a good book or movie there are new things that can be appreciated every time you see a skater go through their program again.

The Team Event was also a unique chance to see the skaters interact with one another as they waited for the marks to appear. This is something we don’t get the chance to see when it is only a skater and a coach in the Kiss and Cry after a skate.

The skaters spend so much time together on the road that there is no doubt about the friendships that exist but there is rarely a chance to see them all together supporting one another and just having fun.

That natural and very human aspect was totally refreshing.

All in all the Team Event was an exercise for me in keeping an open mind: I give it an A.

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