by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
Photos Copyright 2022 by George S. Rossano
Team Event After Day 3 - Final
(8 Feb. 2022)
As expected before the Olympic Games in Beijing, the Team USA won a silver medal in the Olympic team skating competition in Beijing, though not without some nail biting along the way, especially thanks to the two ice dance teams who were first with 10 points each in the Rhythm Dance and Free Dance. The USA won 65 points behind gold medalist Russia with 74 points and ahead of bronze medalist Japan with 63 points. Canada ended on fourth position with 53 points, and China on fifth with 50 points.
Team ROC Captain Nikita Katsalapov remarked on the win, "This medal means everything to us. It shows our hard work. We worked so hard to get it." Teammate Kamila Valieva commented, "It's been quite overwhelming. I was very nervous, but I am just glad I was able to execute all of my elements well. To perform with a team like this means everything." "We all did such a good job. I'm very proud of my team," she added. The secret to ROC success in figure skating she said, is "We work a lot."
Pairs Free Program
Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov from the St. Petersburg pair skating school of Tamara Moskvina and Artur Minchuk, the reigning World and European Champions, won the pairs free program with 145.20 points. Skating to two versions of Georgi Sviridov’s “Snowstorm“, they had components of around 9.0. They opened their program with a good sequence of triple Salchow, Euler and another triple Salchow. The next nine elements were outstanding and even had some GOEs of +5, including one twist, two throws and the first two lifts. Their only mistake came in their last element when Galliamov lost balance near the end of the third lift, dropped Mishina and both fell on the ice. Later he explained that he was tired because they had to get up at 4 o’clock in order to do the daily Covid-19 test before training at 6:30 a.m. The event began at 9:15 A.M. Beijing time. Said Galliamov, "I just lost my balance. I couldn't hold it any more."
Riku Miura & Ryuichi Kihara from Japan, who train in Oakville, Canada with Bruno Marcotte, finished second with 139.60 points. Skating to “Woman“ by Shawn Phillips, they made no serious mistake at all, only her first and her third toe loop in their jump sequence were a bit under-rotated. All other elements had a high quality. The lifts, throws and the triple Salchow got mainly GOEs of +3 and their components had an average of 8.7. Cheng Peng & Jin Yang from China are on third position with 131.75 points. Peng almost fell on the triple Salchow and performed only a single toe loop after the triple toe loop of their combination. Most other elements were impressive, the best one was the triple twist which had four GOEs of +4, but the end of their third lift was shaky.
Vanessa James & Eric Radford are fourth and won seven team points for Canada with 130.07 points. During practice the day before, they had crashed into the Italian pair of Nicolle Della Monica & Matteo Guarise after everybody skating backwards, but nobody seemed injured. In their free program, the Canadians performed ten good elements but their GOEs were mainly only +1 and their speed was lower than other teams. The triple Salchow was a bit under-rotated.
Alexa Knierim & Brandon Frazier of Irvine, California, finished fifth with 128.97 points. Their first element was a good triple twist, but in the jumps combination of triple toe loop and double toe loop, Knierim singled the second toe loop. Their triple throw loop was excellent, but then she stumbled on the triple Salchow and later stepped out of the triple throw flip. The three lifts were very good, the other elements good. Their components were around 8.3.
The free dance of the five couples ended with a surprise because Madison Chock & Evan Bates, one of 11 couples at the Olympic Games from the Montreal ice dance school, beat the Russian World Champions although the Muscovites did not make a serious mistake. Dancing to a medley by the French music group Daft Punk, Chock & Bates played a relationship between an alien from outer space and a human being. They executed all their nine elements in an outstanding way, had mainly GOEs of +4 and collected 129.07 points. The combination lift at the beginning and the choreo step sequence even had mainly GOEs of +5. Their 45 components had an average of 9.5, and the judges from France, Germany and Spain even awarded them 10.0 for composition.
Speaking of their performance Bates said, "I felt very present in each moment of the program. I couldn't tell you what I was thinking at any point in the program, but I just remember being very present and enjoying it. Especially when we came around the diagonal at the end, we're hearing our teammates cheering us on, it really lifted us and gave us energy for that last push of the program." And in scoring first int he free dance he added, 'I had no expectations. I was very surprised at the scores. I had heard what the Russians got right before we skated. And I was like,'Oh, that's a hefty score. All right. Focus.' Yeah, just didn't know what to expect.”
Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov from the Moscow ice dance school of Alexander Zhulin danced to two well-known music pieces by Sergei Rakhmaninov and took the second place with 128.17 points. They had no combination lift but two short lifts instead which bring the same number of points as a combination lift. Their ten elements were outstanding as well. They had more GOEs of +5 than the Americans, but on the other hand their midline step sequence was only a level 2. Their rotational lift near the end was longer than seven seconds, therefore they got a deduction of one point, which cost them the first place. Their components were around 9.6, with two 10.0 from the Spanish judge.
Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier from the ice dance school of Carol Lane in Scarborough near Toronto finished on third position with 124.39 points. Dancing to “Long and Winding Road“ by Paul McCartney, they played their long carrier together. All their elements had mainly GOEs of +3 and +4, but their levels were a bit lower and their components around 9.3. Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu from China, who train in Montreal as long as Canada lets them in the country during the pandemic, otherwise online, are fourth with 107.18 points. They had lower levels on the steps and lower components, but have nevertheless become an excellent ice dance couple although the European or American music sometimes sounds very strange for Chinese ears. Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto from Japan are fifth with 98.66 points. They skated with less speed but made no mistake. Their GOEs were mainly +1 and +2, the components around 7.4.
Women Free Program
The last of the eight events of the team competition was the free program of the five women. No surprise that 15-year-old Kamila Valieva from Russia won with 178.92 points. GOEs of +4 and +5 dominated her elements. In the first minute she performed a quad Salchow, a triple Axel and a combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, everything in an outstanding manner and with arms over her head. Later she fell on the second quad toe loop which was planned in a sequence with Euler and triple Salchow. But this was her only mistake and she skated the Euler and triple Salchow in a later combination with triple flip. With three more triples and stellar spins, steps and elegance, she is the big favorite for the Olympic gold medal in the individual event.
Kaori Sakamoto from Japan placed second with 148.66 points. She had seven triple jumps in her program. Six of them were very strong with GOEs of mainly +3, only the triple Lutz got a small edge warning. Her spins and her step sequences were excellent, her components around 9.0. Madeline Schizas from Canada took third place with 132.04 points in a program which was technically strong with six good triple jumps. But her style was not so outstanding, therefore the components were around 8.1.
Karen Chen of Colorado Springs placed fourth with 131.52 points. The two triple Lutz and the triple toe loop were good, but four other triples were either under-rotated or got an edge warning like the flip which was also a bit shaky. Her spins were excellent or outstanding, the two step sequences as well. Her components had an average of 8.2. Yi Zhu from China ended up fifth with 91.41 points after making several mistakes and skating in a timid manner.