Analysis Strategy pays off as Canada takes team figure skating gold

Daleman delivers a coveted title for her team

Strategy pays off as Canada takes team figure skating gold
Canada succeeded in capturing gold in the figure skating team event at the 2018 Olympics. © Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press

By Pj Kwong, CBC Sports

The figure skating team event at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang wrapped up today with a gold for Canada. What made it fun were a couple of things — not the least of which was the way in which individual skaters have embraced the concept.

The name of the game in the team event is strategy. The placements in each segment of the competition were converted to team points. A first place is worth 10 points, second is worth 9, third is worth 8 and so on. Who skates in which segment is all part of the puzzle.

The top ten figure skating nations all had one entry in each of the four disciplines for the short programs with the top five teams competing for the podium in the free. The pairs have already skated their free programs and by adding the points that were earned in the short programs, Team Canada was in first place heading into the final portion of the competition.

The men, the ladies and the ice dancers would all be skating free programs. What wasn't known until 24 hours ago was who would the nations be putting forward as their skaters. Over the course of the free skating segment of the competition, the nations each have the option of substituting two of their short program skaters to skate the free portion.

Chan steps up

For Team Canada, it was Patrick Chan who started the day in the men's competition. After a lukewarm performance in the short program, Chan was looking to make a statement with his free skate. What I saw was a step in the right direction. Chan's two clean quads were the only error-free ones in the event and his season's best score had to have been a boost to his confidence.

Click on the video below to watch Chan's first-place skate:

Daleman delivers

Team Canada was still in the lead at the start of the ladies' competition and it was a chance for Canadian champion Gabrielle Daleman to work out the kinks on Olympic ice against Olympic Athlete from Russia Alina Zagitova, the European and Grand Prix Final champion.

Daleman was one of three clean skates in the women's field. She was dynamic and confident and very much in control of her performance. A great start to her second Olympic Winter Games.

Click on the video below to watch Daleman's performance:

Zagitova was a machine. Her very smart strategy all season long has been to not perform any jumps until after the halfway point to earn a 10 per cent bonus. It works for her and today was no exception.

Mirai Nagasu also skated clean and the edge she had with a clean triple Axel jump gave her a slim .39-point advantage over Daleman before the placings were converted to team points. Nagasu's second place was worth nine points, while Daleman's third was worth eight.

Virtue and Moir

The final skaters to take the ice were Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in the ice dance segment. All they needed was a last place in the free dance segment for Team Canada to win. They were brilliant and with all of the smoldering sensuality that they perform with their free dance, they were unforgettable and received the crowd reaction of the day.

Canada takes home its first figure skating gold medal at these Games; the Olympic Athletes from Russia take silver and Team USA earns bronze.

Click on the video below to watch Virtue and Moir's Moulin Rouge routine: