By Gina Capellazzi, website administrator
Header photo by Robin Ritoss
After winning the silver medal at the inaugural Olympic team event in 2014, Team Canada had its sights set on gold in this event of PyeongChang Games, and they did it with outstanding performances from two-time World pairs champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, and 2010 Olympic gold medalists and 2014 Olympic silver medalists ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
The Olympic Athletes of Russia secured the silver medal, with a flawless free skate by European Champion Alina Zagitova and Team USA took home their second consecutive Olympic team bronze medal, thanks to an exceptional performance by 2016 U.S. champion Adam Rippon and a historic free skate by 2018 U.S. silver medalist Mirai Nagasu, who landed a triple axel.
Team Italy and Team Japan finished in fourth and fifth respectively.
History was made in the ladies event as 2018 U.S. silver medalist Mirai Nagasu landed the triple axel in her free skate, becoming the first U.S. lady to land the three and a half renovation jump at the Olympic games. She became the third women ever, behind Midori Ito (1992 Olympics) and Mao Asada (2010 Olympics), to complete the jump at this prestigious event.
“Four years ago when, I was left off the (Olympic) team, I wanted to make another Olympic Team, and I knew I would really have to be something special. So to become the first American (ladies figure skater) to land a triple Axel at the Olympic Games is historical, and no one can take that away from me,” she said following the free skate.
After her opening triple axel, Nagasu landed seven more triple jumps, earning a personal best free skate score of 137.53 to finish in second place, earning 9 points for Team USA.
Nagasu, who skated first, held onto the top spot until the last skater, reigning European Champion and Grand Prix Final Champion Alina Zagitova skated a flawless performance to wrap up the ladies segment of the team event. The 15-year-old from Russia landed seven triples, including a triple Lutz-triple loop combination in her Olympic debut, earning a personal best score of 158.08. She earned 10 points for the Olympic Athletes of Russia.
Reigning World bronze medalist Gabrielle Daleman, of Canada, finished in third place, which helped Team Canada maintain the top spot. 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner, of Italy, who is making her fourth Olympic appearance, finished behind Daleman in fourth place, earning 7 points for Italy. Four Continents Champion Kaori Sakamoto finished in fifth for Team Japan.
Adam Rippon made his Olympic debut Monday with a nearly perfect free skate, giving himself an Olympic moment he has been waiting for 28 years. And it was well worth the wait.
The 2016 U.S. Champion skated a captivating free skate, capturing the attention of the crowd inside Gangneung Ice Arena in South Korea and the millions watching from around the world at home. His only mistake was an underrotation call on his triple Lutz.
But nevertheless, Rippon earned a free skate score of 172.98 and finished in third place, earning 8 points for Team USA.
“I have been waiting 28 years for this. Before I went out to skate, I said I feel like I might miss every single element in my program, but then I said, ‘I trained for this too hard and I know when I get out there I am going to go for everything and take one element at a time.’ I was able to do that today. I am so glad I was able to put a really strong program together,” he said.
2014 Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan, who struggled in the short program Friday, opened his program with two quadruple toe loops. He earned 10 points for Team Canada, helping them secure the gold medal. A first gold medal for Chan, who was a favorite to win the men’s individual event in 2014, but lost to Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.
Finishing behind Chan was Mikhail Kolyada, who finished in second place, with a score of 173.57. Kolyada’s free skate started a little rough, falling on his opening quad lutz and stepping out of his triple toe, which was supposed to be a planned quad toe. However, he recovered to land a quad toe and five triples in the second half of the program.
Italy’s Matteo Rizzo finished in fourth place with a clean program, and Japan’s Keiji Tanaka finished in fifth place in a rough skate that included doubling two planned quad salchows.
In the final event of the team event, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir delivered a powerful free dance to solidify Team Canada’s gold medal. Virtue and Moir’s free dance featured five level-four elements. They earned a 118.10 in the free skate.
“We’re obviously thrilled to be Olympic Team Champions. We’re really proud of ourselves because we weren’t happy with our approach in Sochi. We felt we were too casual and were using it more as a simulation,” Moir said. “Tessa (Virtue) and I, Eric (Radford) and Meagan (Duhamel) came home with a sour taste in our mouths. We had a chance at Olympic gold and we were a little too casual about it. We wanted to win the team event in 2018 and we believed in ourselves and we talked about it as a team. We wanted to make sure that we got this gold. As Canadians, we were born on the ice. We think we’re the best in the world,” he continued.
Two-time U.S. Champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani finished behind Virtue and Moir, with a score of 112.01. The sibling team, who said they made changes to their free dance since the U.S. Championships, earned level-fours for five of their elements, including their twizzles.
“I’m really proud of the effort that we put forth this week,” Alex said. “This was our first team event; we had never participated in an event like this before, so it’s an honor to be chosen to skate both the short and the free. I just feel really proud and excited, and I just know our confidence is going to be at another level going into next week.
Finishing in third place was Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, of Russia. The European silver medalists earned a free skate score of 110.43. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy finished in fourth, with Japan’s Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed rounding out the top 5.
GOLD: CANADA: Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (Pairs), Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (Dance), Gabrielle Daleman and Kaetlyn Osmond (Ladies) and Patrick Chan (Men)
SILVER: OLYMPIC ATHLETES OF RUSSIA: Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov and Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert (Pairs), Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (Dance), Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova (Ladies) and Mikhai Kolyada (Men)
BRONZE: USA: Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim (Pairs), Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (Dance), Bradie Tennell and Mirai Nagasu (Ladies) and Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon (Men)