by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
Team Event After Day 2
(7 Feb. 2022) The team short program of the women and the team free program of the men were held on Sunday, February 6, the second day with figure skating at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
Russia took the lead from the USA with 45 points when Kamila Valieva won the ladies event and collected 10 points whereas U.S. skater Karen Chen came only fifth and won 6 points. Later, Russian single skater Mark Kondratiuk (9 points) beat U.S. skater Vincent Zhou (8 points) in the free program. Team USA is in second place now with 42 points ahead of Japan (39 points), Canada (30 points) and China (29 points).
The five teams between the sixth and the tenth place will remain in their position because they did not skate the free program and therefore have no chance to change their position according to the rules. Georgia finished on sixth position with 22 points, Italy is seventh with 20 points, the Czech Republic eighth (15 points), Germany ninth (8 points with a sixth place as best individual result) and the Ukraine tenth (also with 8 points, but with a seventh place as best individual result).
Short Program Women
Kamila Valieva from Russia won the women’s short program with 90.18 points in an outstanding overall performance which came very close to her world record of 90.48 points from Europeans 2022 some weeks ago.
All seven elements were outstanding and had GOEs of mainly +4 and +5: her triple Axel (the only one in the competition) with two arms over her head, her triple flip and the combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. Quad jumps are not yet allowed in a women’s short program, otherwise she would certainly have performed one or two. The three level 4 spins mainly had GOEs of +5, the step sequence (also level 4) four GOEs of +5.
Her components had an average of 9.6 with seven perfect 10.0. Not a single of the 45 components was lower than 9.25.
Performing to “In Memoriam“ of the Russian composer Krill Richter, she said she dedicated her program to her beloved grandmother who had died last year. She skated in a much more mature and elegant style than her age of 15 would expect. Later she said she was very happy when she saw that even the U.S. team members and other teams gave her a standing ovation.
"I was a little nervous going into the competition," she said, "but once I got to the ice, I skated well. I was in control of my program and showed the result I wanted."
"I had so much energy going into the end of this short program. I'm skating for my grandmother (who) passed away, so I think it was that feeling got me," she added.
Wakaba Higuchi from Japan is second with 74.73 points. Skating to “Your Song“ by Ellie Goulding and Elton John, she opened her program with a very good double Axel, followed by an excellent combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. The other elements also got mainly GOEs of +3 and +4, including a speedy step sequence. Her components were around 8.6.
Third with 69.00 points and therefore 8 points for Canada is national champion Madeline Schizas who trains in Milton, about 25 miles west of Toronto. All her seven elements, including a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, had mainly GOEs of +3 and +2. She mainly helped the Canadian team to move up from sixth to fourth place.
Anastasiia Gubanova from Georgia came fourth with 67.56 points after a clean program with a good combination of triple flip and triple toe loop. She is one of 15 skaters in Beijing who are really Russian but compete for other countries and therefore mostly have two citizenships.
Karen Chen of Colorado Springs placed fifth with 65.20 points. In her combination, the triple toe loop after the triple Lutz was under-rotated and she fell on the triple loop which was near an under-rotation before the fall. The spins were excellent and her components around 8.4.
Describing her performance she said, "There were some positive takeaways for sure, and then some things that were silly mistakes that I haven't been making in practice. My practices have been feeling really solid but today, once I realized I'm competing, it felt a little bit different."
"So now that I know what to expect," she added, "I'm happy to bring that experience on to tomorrow (and the team event final)."
"This entire season has been really, really crazy for me. Even just the past four years (there) have been so many ups and downs. The moment I got off the ice at (PyeongChang) 2018, I knew I wanted to keep skating because it's my love and passion, but I definitely struggled with just figuring out how much to put into the sport, since I was juggling school and skating."
"My goal is to hold on to every single second I can. I know the moment I leave here, I will feel a little bit sad that it's all over, so I'm just really trying to hold on to everything, whether it's positive or negative, just to embrace this whole experience.
German champion Nicole Schott placed sixth with 62.66 points. Her combination of triple flip and triple toe loop was good, the triple loop under-rotated, spins and step sequence dynamic and her components around 7.5. Anastasiia Shabotova from the Ukraine is seventh, earning 62.49 points. Eliska Brezinova from the Czech Republic, the younger sister of Michal Brezina, is eighth with 61.05 points. Lara Naki Gutmann from Italy placed ninth with 58.52 points. She only skated the team event because no Italian lady qualified for the main event. Yi Zhu from China ended up tenth with 47.03 points after missing two triple jumps
Free Program Men
After the ladies, the five men from the top five countries after the short program performed their free program. Yuma Kagiyama from Japan won the event with a performance which was at least technically outstanding. He collected 10 points for his team and 208.94 points for his free program.
Kagiyama started with a very good quad Salchow, followed by a quad loop which was a bit shaky, an excellent quad toe loop and a very good combination of triple Axel and triple toe loop. After these four elements he already had won more than 51 technical points. In the second half he performed three more excellent jumping elements which had more than ten points each: a sequence of quad toe loop, Euler and triple Salchow, a combination of triple flip and triple loop as well as a second triple Axel. The spins and step sequences were very good as well.
He skated to the soundtrack of “Gladiator“ and his components had an average of 9.3. But this was definitely too high because he is not such an outstanding artist.
On placing first in the men's free skate with a personal best he said, "In the beginning I made a mistake in my first quadruple loop, but after the first jump all of my performance was perfect."
"I did a really good job today and I would like to say my performance today is perfect," he said of his performance, "but I need to even try harder in my individual events."
The European Champion Mark Kondratiuk from Russia finished second with 181.65 points in his program to Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s rock musical “Jesus Christ Superstar“. He had a so-so quad toe loop and two good triple Axels (one with double toe loop) in the first minute. In the second half he performed two very good quad Salchows, the first one with a triple toe loop. Most other elements were good, but not outstanding. His interpretation of the music was convincing, he had components of around 8.6.and performed in a wild style.
Vincent Zhou of Colordo Springs finished third with 171.44 points, but he was far from perfect. His quad Lutz was almost under-rotated (q), then he popped the flip. The quad Salchow and the quad toe loop were under-rotated. The second quad Salchow in combination with a triple toe loop was good, like all other elements. His components were around 8.6.
Boyang Jin from China is fourth with 155.04 points after presenting two good quads but a third one and a triple Axel on which he almost fell. Roman Sadovsky from Canada ended up fifth with only 122.90 points after making many mistakes.