The figure skating competition at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games will start in Vancouver, Canada, on February 14. Canada is hosting the Olympic Winter Games for the second time since 1988 when the event was held in Calgary. 146 skaters/couples from 31 ISU members have been entered for the Olympic Winter Games. All 30 single skaters will compete in the Short Program and the top 24 proceed to the Free Skating. The 24 ice dance couples and 20 pair couples will compete in all segments of the event.
Overview over the top contenders
The Pairs event focuses on the teams from China, Germany and Russia. Two-time Olympic bronze medalists Xue Shen/Hongbo Zhao (CHN) returned to competition this fall after retiring in 2007. They won each event they entered so far and also scored a seasons best of 214.25 points, the highest any pair has achieved so far. Two-time and reigning World Champions Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER) had to overcome a shaky start into the season, but won Skate Canada with an excellent performance. They come with a seasons best of 211.72 to Vancouver. Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS) upset the Germans at the ISU European Championships 2010 and established a seasons best of 213.15 points. Qing Pang/Jian Tong (CHN) have shown improvement with each competition this season so far and got a seasons best of 201.86 points. Maria Mukhortova/Maxim Trankov (RUS) have emerged as contenders as well with strong performances this season (seasons best 202.03 points). Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang (CHN) are the current Olympic silver medalists and want to return to the podium (seasons best 192.22). Other challengers are Tatiana Voloszoshar/Stanislav Morozov (UKR/187.83) and Jessica Dubé/Bryce Davison (CAN/180.97).
The field in the Men’s event is deep and promises an exciting competition. 2006 Olympic Champion and 2002 Olympic silver medalist Evgeni Plushenko (RUS) is aiming at his third medal in his third Winter Olympic Games. At the European Championships in Tallinn, the 27-year-old proved that he still is at the top of his game (seasons best 255.39 points), although he sat out three seasons. But there are a lot of challengers. World Champion Evan Lysacek (USA) was ranked 4th at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. He won the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and posted a seasons best of 249.45 points. 2006 Olympic silver medalist Stéphane Lambiel (SUI) retired for one season but now is back and wants to fight for the gold in Vancouver (seasons best 238.54 points). 2007 World Champion Brian Joubert (FRA) wants to make the podium in what are his third Olympic Winter Games. He was handicapped by a foot injury earlier this season (seasons best 236.45 points). Daisuke Takahashi (JPN/seasons best 231.31) or Nobunari Oda (JPN/seasons best 243.36) hope to bring home Japan’s first medal in Men’s figure skating at the Olympic Winter Games. Jeremy Abbott (USA/seasons best 235.38), Tomas Verner (CZE/seasons best 224.74) and Johnny Weir (USA/237.35) can challenge for a medal as well.
In the Ice Dance event, the Olympic gold medal could go to North America for the first time in history with Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN/seasons best 204.38 points), Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA/201.97) and Tanith Belbin/Benjamin Agosto (USA/195.85 points) in contention. However, Oksana Domnina/ Maxim Shabalin (RUS/199.26) want to continue the Russian tradition in the discipline. The dark horse in the compeitition is Isabelle Delobel/Olivier Schoenfelder. (FRA). They haven’t competed since December 2008 as Delobel first underwent shoulder surgery and then had a baby in October. Other podium threads are European silver medalists Federica Faiella/Massimoc Sali (ITA/195.86) and 2009 European Champions Jana Khokhlova/Sergei Novitski (RUS/189.67)
2009 World Champion Yu-Na Kim (KOR) is the top favorite and has won each competition this season. The 19-year-old boasts a seasons best of 210.03 points. Mao Asada (JPN/seasons best 183.96) and Miki Ando (JPN/185.94) will challenge Kim and want to follow in the footsteps of 2006 Olympic Champion Shizuka Arakawa (JPN). Canada sends Joannie Rochette (seasons best 182.90) into the medal hunt, while Europe counts on European Champion Carolina Kostner (ITA/seasons best 173.46). Others to watch include reigning U.S. Champion Rachael Flatt (seasons best 174.91 points), current European silver medalist Laura Lepistö (FIN/166.37) and Akiko Suzuki (JPN/176.66).
Please note that for the seasonal best total scores only the ISU Grand Prix competitions (senior and junior) have been taken into consideration, not other international competitions or National Championships.
The schedule of the figure skating events at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games is as follows:
Sunday, February 14: Pairs Short Program
Monday, February 15: Pairs Free Skating
Tuesday, February 16: Men Short Program
Thursday, February 18: Men Free Skating
Friday, February 19: Compulsory Dance
Sunday, February 21: Original Dance
Monday, February 22: Free Dance
Tuesday, February 23: Ladies Short Program
Thursday: February 25: Ladies Free Skating
Saturday, February 27: Exhibition Gala