Gold medalists Team ROC pose during the Team Event flower ceremony at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. @GettyImages
Team ROC skated off with the first Figure Skating gold medal of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium on Monday, as the Team Event concluded with the Pairs and Women’s Free Skating and the Ice Dance/Free Dance. The USA earned the silver medal and Japan claimed the bronze, their first Olympic Team medal.
Confident victory for ROC
Hot favorite, ROC celebrated a confident victory with nine points to spare. ROC did not take any risks and sent their top stars into the final day, not exchanging any team members after the Short Programs and Rhythm Dance.
Kamila Valieva (ROC) during the Women Single Skating Free Skating Team Event at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. @GettyImages
Rising star Kamila Valieva brought home 10 team points with her runaway victory in the Women’s Free Skating. The ISU European Champion nailed a quad Salchow, triple Axel, quad toe-triple toe as well as five more triples. She only missed her second quad toe. The 15-year-old became the first woman to perform a quadruple jump on Olympic ice and scored 178.92 points. “I am glad that I was able to do the quad Salchow, quad toe and the triple Axel,” she said. “Only the second quad toe did not happen, but I’ll work on that.”
ISU World Ice Dance Champions Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov delivered a fluid performance of their Free Dance to Sergei Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, collecting a level four for five elements. However, the two-time European Champions lost one point due to an extended lift which cost them the first place in the segment. They earned 128.17 points and got 9 team points.
Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Team ROC skate during the Ice Dance Free Dance Team Event on day three of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on February 07, 2022 in Beijing, China. @GettyImages
ISU World Pair Skating Champions Anastasia Mishina/Aleksandr Galliamov laid down a solid performance, hitting all the key elements such as the side by side jumps and the throws. However, they took a tumble on the exit from their last lift. “I just lost my balance,” Galliamov explained. “It was very tough for me today, we got up at four something in the morning and had practice at six.” The ISU European Champions nevertheless won the segment with 145.20 points and added the maximum of 10 points to the team score.
Anastasia Mishina/Aleksandr Galliamov (ROC) skating during the Pair Skating Free Skating Team Event at the 2022 Winter Olympic Game in Beijing, China. @GettyImages
ROC totaled 74 points to win the gold. The team included as well Mark Kondratiuk.
“We are very proud of our golden team. They all skated almost flawlessly and we supported each other,” team captain Katsalapov said. “I actually would introduce a medal for each event – the Short Program and Free Skating. Thanks to the World Team Trophy in Japan, the Team Event has become popular and it gives Figure Skating special team spirit. Our sport is moving forward and this (event) gives not only us, but also the spectators many emotions. Our task now is to take a deep breath. We all still have the individual events ahead of us and we will prepare.”
First silver Team Event medal for the USA
Two-time ISU World Ice Dance silver medalists Madison Chock/Evan Bates lifted Team USA back into second place by winning the Ice Dance/Free Dance. The U.S. Champions impressed with their innovative program to electronic music by Daft Punk and picked up a level four for their lifts, twizzles and dance spin to achieve a new personal best of 129.07 points.
Karen Chen produced a double Axel-triple toe and two triple Lutzes in her program to “The Butterfly Lovers”, but underrotated a few jumps to place fourth at 131.52 points (7 team points).
Karen Chen (USA) skating during the Women Single Skating Free Skating Team Event at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. @GettyImages
Pair Skaters Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier made some smaller errors on their solo jumps and the throw triple flip to finish fifth in their segment with 128.97 points (6 team points).
“I think a silver medal is something to be incredibly proud of. It’s the highest finish ever for our country in the history of this event. We’ve been lucky enough to sit in the box for every one of those events to cheer on our teams. This year, knowing that we would get the chance to participate was a big deal to us,” co-captain Bates commented. “We hope this team of Skaters will inspire the next generation of American Skaters. There were a lot of really memorable performances and we were thrilled to be able to contribute today by skating the best we possibly could.”
Bronze medal for Team Japan
Japan was fighting for silver and in the end settled for bronze with 64 points. Kaori Sakamoto put out a seasons best performance to “No More Fight Left In Me” that featured seven clean triple jumps as well as difficult spins and footwork. The Japanese Champion earned 148.66 points and 9 points for her team.
Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) skating during the Women Single Skating Free Skating Team Event at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. @GettyImages
Pair Skaters Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara contributed 9 points as well. The ISU Grand Prix Skate America silver medalists delivered an excellent Free Skating to “Woman” by Shawn Philipps, executing triple throws and jumps. They posted a personal best of 139.60 points. Ice Dancers Misato Komatsbubara/Tim Koleto placed fifth with their dance to “Memoirs of a Geisha” (98.66/6 team points).
“For sure it is a huge honor to share the ice with these amazing athletes together. The last two times we came fourth, we were not able to take the medal and I think it is due to our strength in all categories and the improvement of our amazing Pair team and our fantastic single Skaters that we were able to climb in the rankings,” team co-captain Koleto noted. “The Team Event is a great motivator for countries to continue to put energy and time into all the categories. We feel so supported and so excited for the future of Japanese Figure Skating,” he added.
Defending Olympic Team Champions Canada came fourth at 53 points. Their highest scoring team members were 2021 ISU World Ice Dance bronze medalists Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier and Madeline Shizas who finished third in the Free Dance and Women’s Free Skating respectively.
Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) skating during the Women Single Skating Free Skating Team Event at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. @GettyImages
Team China finished fifth on 50 points with Ice Dancers Shiyue Wang/Xinyu Liu, placing fourth in the Free Dance.
A total of ten teams participated in the Olympic Team Event that was held for the third time. All ten Teams competed in the Short Programs and Rhythm Dance and the top five teams advanced to the Free Skating/Free Dance segments. The teams had qualified by getting points according to the results at the ISU Championships and ISU Grand Prix/Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating (see ISU Communication N°2443 for full entry lists).
The Figure Skating competition continues Tuesday with the Men’s Short Program.