Meryl Davis and Charlie White solidified the U.S. effort with a marvelous ice dance short program. Ashley Wagner then shook off any shakiness from the U.S. championships, putting the USA solidly in the top three. Russia and Canada are likely battling for the gold, while the USA will need to hold off Japan and Italy to take bronze.
Date: 8- Feb
Sport: Figure skating
Event: Team event, ice dance and women’s short programs (the pairs free program will be a separate post)
How U.S. fared: The applause for Davis and White started before several seconds before they finished. What more do you need to know? They were first, lifting the USA to third overall with one short program remaining.
Ashley Wagner, whose international success put her on the team despite a dreadful performance at the U.S. national championships, did a solid, spunky skate. The landing on her combination jump was a little shaky, and judges may have downgraded it a bit too much. She was a little befuddled with the judging but happy with her performance.
What happened: We knew China and Japan would fall back in the ice dancing, and they did. Ice dancing is considered a two-pair race — Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir vs. the USA’s Davis and White — and it was. The Americans got exactly three points up on their Canadian icemates, though, to take a massive 10 points in the standings.
Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev took third, establishing themselves as the potential bronze medalists when the teams are tossed aside later in the Games. France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat were the best-dressed pair — he had a pinstripe suit and red tie, she had a black and red dress — but they were disappointed in their skating and took fourth.
The standings through three phases: Russia 27, Canada 26, USA 20, France 17, China 16, Japan 16, Germany 15, Italy 14, Britain 7, Ukraine 7. Still some work to do for the USA if they want to bounce up to gold or silver, but making the top five for the final seems to be a safe bet.
In the women’s skate: Kaetlyn Osmond isn’t the biggest star on the Canadian team, but she blew the doors off right away with a flawless program set to music from Sweet Charity. She set the pace for the early skaters, but then the big guns came out after the ice was resurfaced. Wagner did well, but then 15-year-old uber-flexible Russian Yulia Lipnitskaia was simply dazzling. She was the unsurprising winner of this phase, followed by Carolina Kostner, who got Italy into the final five.
The surprise was Japan’s Mao Asada finishing ahead of Wagner despite falling on her triple axel. That said, Asada dared to try the difficult jump and rebounded well through the rest of her program.
The final five teams continue to the free skate: Russia, Canada, USA, Japan, Italy. Just missing out: France and China. Also out: Germany, Ukraine, Britain.