Updated Jan. 14; minor update Jan. 21
Here’s what we know about the ever-changing world of figure skating:
– For the Japanese men, Russian women, Chinese pairs: Whoever makes team is a contender, even if Chinese pairs have slipped a bit.
– All these events have long-established favorites, but none moreso than ice dancing, where everyone else is expected to fight for bronze after the Americans and Canadians take gold and silver (not necessarily in that order).
– The team event is new and controversial. Some fans worry that their favorite skaters will wear themselves out competing in a team event and turning around for their regular competition. The event is rarely seen anywhere else, and a couple of countries are being allowed to bring skaters who didn’t qualify for individual events just so they can have a full team. See below for more fun with that.
– The major pre-Olympic events are done. We’ll keep an eye on the European and Four Continents championships to see if any high scores are posted, but the top skaters are focused on Sochi (and qualification). Some countries will have some tough competition to make the team, so we may eliminate some skaters who don’t make the cut.
The ISU bios are worth checking if you want any more detail about performance history or music selections.
I’ve given a “highest score” list in each event. That would be the highest scores recorded since the current scoring system went into effect — 2010-11 for ice dancing, 2003 for other events.
Away we go …
Gold: Patrick Chan (Canada)
Silver: Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)
Bronze: Daisuke Takahashi (Japan)
Also considered: Evgeni Plushenko (Russia), anyone from Japan
2013 Grand Prix Final results: Hanyu, Chan, Nobunari Oda (Japan), Tatsuki Machida (Japan), Maxim Kovtun (Russia), Han Yan (China)
2013 World Championship top 8: Chan, Denis Ten (Kazakhstan), Javier Fernandez (Spain), Hanyu, Kevin Reynolds (Canada), Takahashi, Max Aaron (USA), Takahito Mura (Japan)
2010 Olympic medalists: Evan Lysacek (USA; out injured), Plushenko, Takahashi
Highest scores: Chan 295.27, Hanyu 293.25, Takahashi 276.72, Fernandez 274.87, Ten 266.48, Machida 265.38, Oda 262.98, Plushenko 261.23
WOMEN (or “LADIES” if you prefer)
Gold: Mao Asada (Japan)
Silver: Yuna Kim (South Korea)
Bronze: Ashley Wagner (USA)
Also considered: Gracie Gold (USA), Julia Lipnitskaia (Russia), Carolina Kostner (Italy), Adelina Sotnikova (Russia)
2013 Grand Prix Final results: Asada, Julia Lipnitskaia (Russia), Wagner, Elena Radionova (Russia), Adelina Sotnikova (Russia), Anna Pogorilaya (Russia)
2013 World Championship top 8: Kim, Asada, Kanako Murakami (Japan), Wagner, Gracie Gold (USA), Zijun Li (China), Kaetlyn Osmond (Canada)
2010 Olympic medalists: Kim, Asada, Joannie Rochette (Canada; retired)
Highest scores: Kim 228.56, Asada 207.59, Rochette 202.64, Ando 201.34, Akiko Suzuki (Japan) 199.58, Lipnitskaia 198.23, Irina Slutskaya (Russia; retired) 198.06, Kostner 197.89
Gold: Volosozhar/Trankov (Russia)
Silver: Savchenko/Szolkowy (Germany)
Bronze: Duhamel/ Radford (Canada)
Also considered: Pang/Tong (China), Peng/Zhang (China)
2013 Grand Prix Final results: Savchenko/Szolkowy, Volosozhar/Trankov, Pang/Tong, Peng/Zhang, Duhamel/ Radford, Moore-Towers/Moscovitch (Canada)
2013 World Championship top 8: Volosozhar/Trankov, Savchenko/Szolkowy, Duhamel/ Radford, Moore-Towers/Moscovitch, Pang/Tong, Kavaguti/Smirnov (Russia), Bazarova/Larionov (Russia), James/Cipres (France)
2010 Olympic medalists: Shen/Zhao (China; retired), Pang/Tong, Savchenko/Szolkowy
Highest scores: Volosozhar/Trankov 237.71, Savchenko/Szolkowy 227.03, Shen/Zhao 216.57, Pang/Tong 213.98, Kavaguti/Smirnov 213.15, Moore-Towers/Moscovitch 208.45, Duhamel/Radford 204.56, Totmianina/Marinin (Russia; retired) 204.58
Gold: Davis/White (USA)
Silver: Virtue/Moir (Canada)
Bronze: Bobrova/Soloviev (Russia)
Also considered: Cappellini/Lanotte (Italy), Ilinykh/Katsalapov (Russia), Pechalat/Bourzat (France), Weaver/Poje (Canada)
2013 Grand Prix Final results: Davis/White, Virtue/Moir, Pechalat/Bourzat, Bobrova/Soloviev, Weaver/Poje, Cappellini/Lanotte
2013 World Championship top 8: Davis/White, Virtue/Moir, Bobrova/Soloviev, Cappellini/Lanotte, Weaver/Poje, Pechalat/Bourzat, Chock/Bates (USA), Shibutani/Shibutani (USA)
2010 Olympic medalists: Virtue/Moir, Davis/White, Domnina/Shabalin (Russia; retired)
Highest scores (since program revision): Davis/White 191.35, Virtue/Moir 190.00, Weaver/Poje 175.23, Pechalat/Bourzat 173.18, Ilinykh/Katsalapov 171.89, Bobrova/Soloviev 169.23, Cappellini/Lanotte 168.49, Chock/Bates 164.91
Also considered: France, Japan
2013 Team Trophy: USA, Canada, Japan, Russia, China, France
2013 World Championships (simulated): Canada, USA, Russia, France, Italy
Qualifying points: Canada, Russia, USA, Japan, Italy, France, China, Germany, Ukraine, Britain
Simulated team event? Why, yes! Here’s how it works:
The Olympic figure skating team event format hasn’t been tried elsewhere as far as I know. The World Team Trophy has two skaters in each individual event; the Olympic format will have one. After the short programs, the teams will be trimmed from 10 to five.
The scoring is similar, though.
So suppose we used the 2013 World Championships results and pretended that was a team event?
One problem at the outset: Only six countries qualified in all four events at Worlds. That’s Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, USA. Three-event countries: China (no dance), Japan (no pairs), Poland (no women), Ukraine (no pairs), Britain (no men).
Take out Poland, and those are the 10 countries that have qualified for the Olympic team event. So we’ll just assign 1 point (last place) wherever a country has no athlete. In pairs, where we’re lacking Japanese and Ukrainian entries, we’ll give each of them 1.5 points.
Here’s what we have:
Men: Canada (Chan) 10, Japan (Takahashi) 9, France (Joubert) 8, USA (Aaron) 7, China (Song) 6, Germany (Liebers) 5, Russia (Kovtun) 4, Ukraine (Godorozha) 3, Italy (Bacchini) 2, Britain (none) 1
Women: Italy (Kostner) 10, Japan (Murakami) 9, Canada (Osmond) 8, USA (Wagner) 7, Russia (Sotnikova) 6, France (Meite) 5, China (Li) 4, Ukraine (Popova) 3, Britain (McCorkell) 2, Germany (Weinzierl) 1
Pairs: Russia 10, Canada 9, Germany 8, China 7, France 6, Italy 5, USA 4, Britain 3, Japan 1.5, Ukraine 1.5
Dance: USA 10, Canada 9, Russia 8, France 7, Italy 6, Britain 5, Germany 4, Ukraine 3, Japan 2, China 1
Totals after short program
Canada 10+8+9+9 = 36
USA 7+7+4+10 = 28
Russia 4+6+10+8 = 28
France 8+5+6+7 = 26
Italy 2+10+5+6 = 23
Japan 9+9+1.5+2 = 21.5
China 6+4+7+1 = 18
Germany 5+1+8+4 = 18
Britain 1+2+3+5 = 11
Ukraine 3+3+1.5+3 = 10.5
Men: Canada 10, USA 9, France 8, Russia 7, Italy 6
Women: Italy 10, USA (Gold) 9, Russia (Tuktamysheva) 8, Canada 7, France 6
Pairs: Russia 10, Canada 9, France 8, USA 7, Italy 6
Dance: USA 10, Canada 9, Italy 8, Russia 7, France 6
Free skate totals
Canada 10+7+9+9 = 35
USA 9+9+7+10 = 35
Russia 7+8+10+7 = 32
Italy 6+10+6+8 = 30
France 8+6+8+6 = 28
Canada 36+35 = 71
USA 28+35 = 63
Russia 28+32 = 60
France 26+28 = 54
Italy 30+23 = 53
Max Aaron (USA): Former USA developmental hockey player was seventh in 2013 World Championships and narrowly missed out on 2013 GP Final. Skating to Bizet, among others. High score: 238.36 (Worlds 2013).
Patrick Chan (Canada): Three-time world champion (2011-13) after two runner-up finishes. Fifth in 2010 Olympics. Third and second in last two GP Finals. Parents immigrated from China. Skating to Rachmaninov, Vivaldi and Corelli. High score 295.27 (Bompard 2013).
Javier Fernandez (Spain): You’ll hear a lot of “first Spanish skater to …” do pretty much anything. Huge in 2012-2013: fourth at GP Final, Euro champion, third at Worlds. Skating music includes Peter Gunn. High score: 274.87 (Euro 2013).
Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan): Third in 2012 World Championships; fourth in 2013. Moved to Canada to train with Brian Orser and others. Second in 2012 GP Final; first in 2013. Skating to Gary Moore and Nino Rota. High score 293.25 (GP Final 2013).
Brian Joubert (France): 2007 world champion hasn’t retired but missed GP season. High score 244.58 (Worlds 2012).
Maxim Kovtun (Russia): Edging into senior competition at 2013 World Championship (17th) and two second-place GP finishes. Skating to Pepe Romero and Tchaikovsky. High score 240.34 (Rostelecom 2013).
Tatsuki Machida (Japan): Grand Prix success but no major events yet. Trains in USA. Skating to East of Eden soundtrack and Stravinsky’s Firebird. High score 265.38 (Skate America 2013).
Nobunari Oda (Japan): Hasn’t finished above sixth in World Championships or Olympics but has come on strong since 2012 knee injury. Third in 2013 GP Final. Descended from 16th century Japanese warlord Nobunaga Oda. Skating to John Barry’s Cotton Club and Rossini’s William Tell Overture. High score 262.98 (Nebelhorn 2013).
Evgeni Plushenko (Russia): Retired after winning 2006 gold (and 2002 silver), came back to take silver in 2010, feuded with federation, got a disc replaced in his back … and still a possibility for Sochi. World champion in 2001, 2003 and 2004. Hasn’t bothered much with GP events since 2005. Free skate music listed as “The Best of Plushenko.” High score 261.23 (Euro 2012).
Kevin Reynolds (Canada): Wild card with massive jumping ability and AC/DC in his short program. High score: 250.55 (Four Continents 2013).
Daisuke Takahashi (Japan): 2010 Olympic bronze medalist and world champion. Second in 2012 World Championships. 2012 GP Final winner. Missed 2013 GP Final with injury. Skating to Samuragochi and The Beatles. High score: 276.72 (World Team Trophy 2012)
Denis Tan (Kazakhstan): Descended from Korean general. Illness wrecked 2013 GP season. 2013 World Championship runner-up is far and away best finish. Trains with Frank Carroll in California. High score: 266.48 (Worlds 2013).
Han Yan (China): 2012 junior world champion. Won 2013 Cup of China. Music mix includes Fats Waller and The Blue Danube. High score 245.62 (China 2013).
Miki Ando (Japan): Fifth in 2010 Olympics, 2011 world champion, then took time off to have a baby. Skating to Sinatra’s My Way and Stravinsky’s Firebird. High score: 201.34 (Four Continents 2011)
Mao Asada (Japan): 2008 and 2010 world champion. 2010 Olympic silver medalist. Skating to Chopin and Rachmaninov. High score 207.59 (NHK 2013).
Yuna Kim (South Korea): 2010 Olympic gold medalist. 2009 and 2013 world champion. Competed little in GP events since 2009 for a variety of reasons (feud with former coach, lobbying for 2018 Olympic bid, injury). Made 2013-14 season debut in Zagreb with a score of 204.49. Skating to Send in the Clowns and Astor Piazzolla. High score 228.56 (Olympics 2010).
Julia Lipnitskaia (Russia): 15-year-old hasn’t skated in major events yet. Moved to senior competition in 2012 with second and third in two GP events (missed final with concussion). Won two GP events in 2013. Skating to Mark Minkov and John Williams (Schindler’s List soundtrack). High score 198.23 (Skate Canada 2013).
Carolina Kostner (Italy): Disastrous free skate in 2010 Olympics was an outlier. 2012 world champion; second in 2013. Second and third in 2013 GP events; didn’t qualify for final. Skating to Dvorak and Rimsky-Korsakov. High score: 197.89 (Worlds 2013).
Mirai Nagasu (USA): Fourth in 2010 Olympics. Hasn’t competed in World Championships since then. Skating to Gershwin and a James Bond medley. High score 190.15 (Olympics 2010).
Anna Pogorilaya (Russia): 15-year old debuted in Grand Prix with win at Cup of China. Skating to Kawai and something from Hans Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack. High score 184.69 (Bompard 2013).
Elena Radionova (Russia): Will turn 15 in January 2014. Finished third and second in first two GP events, then fourth in final. Skating to Anna Karenina and Frida soundtracks. High score 191.81 (NHK 2013).
Adelina Sotnikova (Russia): Ninth in 2013 World Championship; second in 2013 Euro championship. Skating to Bizet and Saint-Saens. High score 193.99 (Euro 2013).
Akiko Suzuki (Japan): Third in 2012 Worlds and first at 2013 World Team Trophy. Also third at 2012 GP Final; barely failed to qualify in 2013. Free skate: Phantom of the Opera. High score: 199.58 (World Team Trophy 2013).
Ashley Wagner (USA): Fourth and fifth in last two World Championships; second and third in GP finals. Skating to Pink Floyd (Shine On You Crazy Diamond) and Prokofiev. High score 194.37 (Bompard 2013).
Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford (Canada): Paired up after 2010 Olympics (neither skater competed). Moved up through three World Championships: seventh, fifth, third. Radford composed short program music Tribute for former coach Paul Wirtz, who died of lymphoma in 2006. Long program includes Danny Elfman Alice in Wonderland music. High score: 204.56 (Worlds 2013).
Yuko Kavaguti / Alexander Smirnov (Russia): Two-time World Championship medalists placed fourth in 2010 Olympics. Smirnov’s knee injury ruled them out of the GP season and put their Sochi status in doubt. If they make it back, you’ll hear some Borodin and Tchaikovsky. Kavaguti is on her third country, having competed in singles for Japan and once skating at the U.S. Championships. High score: 213.15 (Euro 2013)
Kirsten Moore-Towers / Dylan Moscovitch (Canada): Paired since 2009. Best major finish was fourth in 2013 World Championships. Skating to Raphael Beau, Max Steiner and Nino Rota. High score: 208.45 (Skate America 2013).
Qing Pang / Jian Tong (China): 2010 Olympic silver medalists and world champions. Dropped over next three World Championships: third, fourth, fifth. Third in 2012 and 2013 GP Finals. Skating to Ennio Morricone and something from Les Mis. High score: 213.98 (GP Final 2013).
Cheng Peng / Hao Zhang (China): Zhang and Dan Zhang was the 2006 silver medalists, back when Peng was eight years old. Peng’s bio gives her occupation as “middle school student.” Pair is progressing – high score: 197.37 (GP Final 2013).
Aliona Savchenko / Robin Szolkowy (Germany): Four-time world championships (2008, 09, 11, 12), runners-up in 2010 and 2013. Olympic bronze medalists in 2010. GP Final winners in 2011 and 2013. Skating to Chris de Burgh (no, not The Lady in Red or Don’t Pay the Ferryman) and The Nutcracker. High score 227.03 (GP Final 2013).
Tatiana Volosozhar / Maxim Trankov (Russia): Eighth and seventh with different partners in 2010 Olympics. Teamed up the next year and finished second, second and first in next three World Championships. GP Final winners in 2012; second in 2013. Skating to Khatchaturian and Jesus Christ Superstar. High score 237.71 (Skate America 2013).
Ekaterina Bobrova / Dmitri Soloviev (Russia): Best World Championship finish is third in 2013. Free dance to Vivaldi and Mozart. High score 169.25 (Euro 2013).
Anna Cappellini / Luca Lanotte (Italy): Haven’t yet hit podium at World Championships or GP Finals. Skating to 42nd Street and Barber of Seville. High score 168.49 (Skate America 2013).
Madison Chock / Evan Bates (USA): Each skater won a world junior championship with a different partner, then paired up in 2011. Decent 2012-13 season, seventh in World Championships. Third in two GP events in 2013. Skating to music from Les Mis. High score 164.91 (World Team Trophy 2013).
Meryl Davis / Charlie White (USA): Traded titles back and forth with Virtue and Moir, who train with them and share coaches. 2010 silver medalists, then world champions in 2011 and 2013. Back-to-back GP Final winners. Paired up in their tweens in 1997. Skating to Frederic Loewe and Rimsky-Korsakov. High score 191.35 (GP Final 2013).
Elena Ilinykh / Nikita Katsalapov (Russia): 2010 world junior champions; fifth in 2012 World Championships for best major result. Seventh on 2013 GP circuit, just missing GP Final. Free dancing to Swan Lake. High score 171.89 (Bompard 2013).
Nathalie Pechalat / Fabian Bourzat (France): Best World Championship finish is third in 2012. Also third in three straight GP Finals. Skating to a mix of tunes, highlighted by Big Spender. High score 173.18 (Worlds 2012).
Maia Shibutani / Alex Shibutani (USA): Siblings took World Championship bronze in 2011 but haven’t duplicated those results. Third in two GP events in 2013. Skating to the Michaels — Buble and Jackson. High score 163.79 (Worlds 2011).
Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir (Canada): See Davis/White, to whom they’re inextricably linked. Won gold in 2010 and world title in 2012; second to Davis/White in 2011 and 2013. Paired up in 1997. Skating to Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong, Alexandre Glazunov and a bit of Skriabin. High score 190.00 (GP Final 2013).
Kaitlyn Weaver / Andrew Poje (Canada): Weaver was born in Texas but moved to Canada to train with Poje and got her citizenship in 2009. Top five in last three World Championships. Skating to Harry Warren, Gideon Kramer and Astor Piazzolla. High score 175.23 (Skate Canada 2013).