Olympics figure skating to debut team competition

Jonathan Daniel

Welcome everyone to my first installment for Sochi 2014 on figure skating. But before I get started, I’d like to tip my hat to my local Vancouver Councilmen, Tim Stevenson, who is in Sochi as an official Canadian representative to present something that country desperately is lacking, a human conscience. After the mayor of Sochi said that there are no gay people residing in Sochi, I think Tim has his work cut out for him. On a personal note, Tim has stood in my corner when the chips have been down, with help and spiritual guidance when I needed to change my life.

Now let's talk figure skating, because that’s where I think I have a bit more knowledge then writing about politics. Although, skating and politics pretty much go hand and hand. I'm excited that this is the first Olympics where a team competition is going to take place.

Each country will pick an athlete to skate the short program in each discipline, and another athlete to the long program. The countries to watch are the obvious powerhouses -- the host country, Russia, along with Canada, Japan, and the U.S. Based on the placements, a team will receive points, and of course the team with most points wins. Now what I don’t like about this new event, is it’s one more time where the skater has to skate all out, potentially wrecking their chances in the individual events. Also for some countries, like Russia where they only had one spot in the men's event, this skater will have to skate his short program and long program twice. The events take place even before the Opening Ceremonies. My prediction for the placements in this event look like this.

1. Canada
At least year's World Championships, we had two Men in the Top 5 (1st and 5th), Pairs in the Top 4 (3rd and 4th), two  dance teams in the Top 5 (2nd and 5th).  All of these competitors qualified onto Canada’s Olympic Team, so look for them to secure the Gold Medal in the Team Final.

2. Russia
Look for Russia to materialize in the ladies and pairs. But their dance teams will not rival the Canadian team, or the Americans. Also with only one entrant into the men’s event, from what I’ve seen of veteran, Evgeny Plushenko, I don’t think he’ll top the points board in the team event.

3. Japan
Japan is in the same boat with their Olympic Team as the Russians. They have strong contenders in two fields (Ladies and Men's), but nothing in there pairs or dance world. But I believe if Mao Asada, Akiko Suzuki, and Daisuke Takahashi skate clean, their points will give them an outside chance for the bronze.

4. United States
The United States is in trouble for the team event. The only ones that will be a high point collector are reigning world Ice Dance Champions, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The pairs cannot compete with Canada or Russia, the ladies have suffered on the international stage, and the men will let nerves get the better of them. Also, Jeremy Abbott has stated Sochi will be his final amateur competition, and he’s looking for a medal. But I’m guessing he means in the individual event.

Chad Conley is a former elite Canadian skater, who writes about the sport for Outsports.You can read his coming out story here.

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