Olympic Winter Games 2014 - Team Russia skates to the lead

- Sochi, Russia

The figure skating competition at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games opened in Sochi, Russia, on February 6 with the first day of the inaugural team event.

Team Russia skates to the lead

Russia took the lead as the team competition at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games kicked off with the Men’s and Pairs Short Programs at the Iceberg Skating Palace on Thursday. Team Canada sits in second, followed by Team China.

Strong performances of Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov, who won the Pairs Short Program, and Evgeni Plushenko, who ranked second in the Men’s Short Program earned Russia 19 points

World Champions Volosozhar/Trankov were the last skaters of the day and put out a strong performance to “Waltz Masquerade” that featured a high triple twist, a set of triple toes and throw triple loop. They scored 83.79 points, just below their personal best and record scores. "We skated very carefully today. We wanted to show all our emotions and all our strength on the ice and concentrate on completing all our elements. I think we managed this very important task and we are happy we have put Russia into first place in this event for the first time in the Olympic Games”, Trankov commented.

Plushenko vowed the crowd with his performance to "Tango de Roxanne". The 31-year-old hit a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination and triple Axel. The 2006 Olympic champion scored 91.39 points and picked up nine team points for Russia. "Actually it was difficult, believe me it is so difficult skating an Olympics at home because many people are here, waiting for something incredible. You need to concentrate.  I skated very well I think, to me I skated good. But I must fight a few days more”, Plushenko said.

Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford helped their team with an excellent short program to Radford’s music “Tribute” and finished second with 73.10 points. They scored nine points for the team. This was a new seasons best for them. They nailed their side by side triple Lutz and picked up a level four for four elements. "After the men's short, we had a little extra pressure after Patrick Chan was in third place. We were, 'We have to do it for the team'”, Duhamel noted. Radford was pleased with their performance: "That was a skate like we did in training. We just put ourselves in a little bubble. We had high expectations."

World Champion Patrick Chan reduced his combination to a quadruple toeloop-double toeloop and stepped out of the triple Axel to come third in the Men's short at 89.71 points, which resulted in eight placement points for Canada.

China benefitted from Cheng Peng/Hao Zhang coming third in the Pairs and Han Yan's fourth place in the Men's Short Program. Peng/Zhang put out a clean performance to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” that included a triple toe, triple twist and throw triple loop. The Grand Prix finalists earned 71.01 points.

Yan landed a quadruple toeloop and triple Axel, but stepped out of the back end of his triple Lutz-triple toe combination to earn 85.52 points.

Japan finished fourth with 13 points. Yuzuru Hanyu won the men's short program with a clean performance that included a quadruple toeloop and triple Axel. He scored 97.98 points and earned 10 placement points. Pair skaters Narumi Takahashi/Ryuichi Kihara added 3 points to the team score.

Germany is currently ranked fifth, followed by France and the USA.

The figure skating competition in Sochi continues Saturday with the Team Short Dance, Team Ladies Short Program and Team Pairs Free Skating.

For more information, full entry lists and results please see: www.isu.org and www.sochi2014.com

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