Although the opening ceremony hasn’t happened yet, the Olympic Games have already unofficially kicked off! I’ll be sharing profiles of Team USA’s hopes to watch in some events, and we’ll start off with figure skating.
The US is expected to have good chances in the new team competition for the event – previously, only individual medals were given, but this Games marks the beginning of this new twist which tallies total scores for each country’s team. Although they will face stiff competition from other nations in the individual events, Team USA’s overall consistency makes them a contender for the team medals.
Their best hopes for an individual medal rest in Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the ice dancing category – they earned silver in Vancouver in 2010 and, as the gold medal favorites, are looking to improve on that performance. They are also joined in the competition by Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and sibling team Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani. Both of these teams also bring medal potential to the event.
The women’s team is led by Gracie Gold, who has been a shining star in women’s skating this year. She will be joined by skating veteran Ashley Wagner, who was controversially named to the team in place of Vancouver Olympian Mirai Nagasu despite placing behind her in nationals. The team is completed by 15-year-old Polina Edmunds, who might be considered a wild card in this competition.
In the pairs event, international competition veterans Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are joined by the less experienced (but no less in contention) Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay. Though neither team is favored to win the event, they have continued to impress in recent national competitions and could surprise again.
Finally, the two men competing for Team USA are Jeremy Abbot and Jason Brown. Abbot was a favorite to be on the Olympic team, and did so in grand fashion by setting a record in short program scores at Nationals. Brown is more of a surprise – he beat out Max Aaron in that competition to earn the second team spot. He topped the free skate scores, and is a fan favorite due to his charismatic nature and energetic style.
The figure skating team competition is already underway, and events will continue to happen throughout much of the Games. Stay tuned for more team profiles and event results in the coming days!