The favorites largely held to form in the team figure skating event, as Canada held off the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) to earn the country’s first gold medal of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Canada and OAR were pegged as the favorites all along, as they have more depth in a variety of different figure skating disciplines than anyone else in the world. But what was expected to be a close race between the two skating powerhouses turned into something of a rout, with Canada clinching first place even before the final round, the ice dancing free skate program, was contested.
“I didn’t want to let my team down,” said Gabrielle Daleman, who clinched the victory with a third place finish in the women’s free skate. “I just skated with all my heart and just was in the moment completely.”
Canada Consistent and Dominant
Canada finished the competition with 73 total points, finishing no worse than third place in any of the eight disciplines. That was also true of OAR, with one major exception: a disappointing eight place finish in the men’s short program by Mikhail Kolyada, which accounted for much of the difference in the final standings. OAR finished with 66 points overall in the competition.
The United States, which was listed as the third favorite by oddsmakers, finished with 62 points to comfortably take the bronze medals ahead of Italy and Japan. While the Americans failed to win any of the disciplines, their consistency paid off, as they finished no worse than fourth in any portion of the event.
For the Americans, the result showed that their skaters were mostly in fine form, especially after a disappointing start from Nathan Chen. Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel in the Olympic Games, while Adam Rippon finished third and nearly slipped into second in the men’s free skate.
“This is literally a dream come true for all of us,” Nagasu said. “I think I speak on behalf of the team. We’re super excited and we’re at a loss for words.”
Medal Favorites on Display
While the team event provided plenty of thrills on its own, for many fans – and sometimes, for the skaters themselves – this was a warm up and a preview for the four disciplines that are still to come. Many of the top favorites in each event took part in the team competition, with mixed results.
Shoma Uno is the favorite to win the men’s competition, and he showed his quality by finishing first by a wide margin in the men’s short program during the team event. Uno is an even money favorite to win men’s gold at Bovada. The second choice, Nathan Chen (+175), struggled on his way to a fourth place finish in the same short program.
In the women’s figure skating competition, which is perhaps the premier event of the entire Winter Olympics program, OAR could take the top two spots on the podium, and Russian athletes finished first in both halves of the women’s portion of the team event. Favorite Evgenia Medvedeva (even) took first place in the short program, while Alina Zagitova (+170) did the same in the free skate to help OAR take the silver medals.