by George Rossano
(9 February 2018) Figure Skating competition at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games will kick off on February 9 just before the Opening Ceremony, with the team event, being held for the second time in the history of the Games.
Ten teams will compete in the Short Programs/Short Dance but only the top five teams after the Short Programs will advance to the Free Skating/Free Dance. At the Sochi Games in 2014 the inaugural team event saw Russia win the gold medal followed by Canada and the USA. In qualifying for the team event, Canada claimed a narrow lead over the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) and the USA ranked third and Japan fourth.
To be competitive for a medal, teams must be strong in at least three of the four disciplines. Teams strong in two, have an outside chance for the bronze medal, while strength in only one discipline is a futile search for a medal. By these criteria Canada is the favorite with potential strength in Ladies, Pairs and Dance, depending on who skates in the event. Patrick Chan, who has been off his peak for some time, is probably the weakest link for team Canada.
Russia that will compete under the name Olympic Athletes from Russia, is fairly strong in all disciplines, with the ladies their strongest skaters led by two-time World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva, newly crowned European ChampionAlina Zagitova.
Team USA has at it's disposal ISU Grand Prix Final Champion Nathan Chen, and in dance three highly ranked couples to call upon. The U.S. ladies trail the Canadians and Russians in the rankings, and pairs is the weakest discipline for the U.S. team.
Next in line with a chance for a medal in team Japan led by their strong single skaters, 2015 World silver medalist Satoko Miyahara and 2017 World silver medalist Shoma Uno. Reigning Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu will not be part of team Japan and is focusing on preparing for the Singles competitions and willnot arrive in Korea until the 11th.
China trails Japan slightly in the rankings but has potential strength in two disciplines, Men and Pairs. This gives China only an outside chance for a medal.
Copyright 2018 by George S. Rossano