The sport of Figure Skating is constantly evolving and every two years the ISU Members vote on rule changes during the ISU Congress. Spectators and viewers at home will notice a couple of changes since the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
It will be Korea versus Japan, Sang-Hwa Lee versus Nao Kodaira, in the ladies’ 500m on Sunday. Lee is the two-fold Olympic champion defending her title on home soil, but Kodaira has reigned the shortest speed skating distance with an iron fist over the past two seasons, winning in each of her last 15 World Cup appearances.
Japan’s ‘Samurai’ Yuzuru Hanyu was unstoppable on his way to his second consecutive Olympic gold medal at Gangneung Ice Arena on Saturday. World silver medalist Shoma Uno made it one-two for Japan by overtaking Spain’s two-time World Champion Javier Fernandez, who settled for the bronze. Hanyu triumphed what was a festival of quadruple jumps.
Saturday’s Short Track Speed Skating program Gangneung Ice Arena makes up for more exciting competition in the ladies’ 1500m and the men’s 1000m. The Ladies will start with the heats and skate all the way to the final, while the men already finished their heats on Tuesday. They will skate the quarter, semi and finals on Saturday.
Hong Zhang (CHN) handed China the first speed skating gold, when she won the ladies’ 1000m in Sochi four years ago. This time around, she’s not high up the list of favorites. Her preparations for PyeongChang 2018 have been plagued by a long struggle to overcome the pain she feels in her knees.
Esmee Visser (NED) came, saw and conquered in the ladies’ 5000m at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Friday. The 22-year-old held two-fold Olympic champion Martina Sáblíková (CZE) off a third consecutive title in a track record time of 6:50.23. The 30-year-old Czech took silver and Natalia Voronina (OAR) grabbed bronze.
Reigning Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan left no doubt in the Men’s Short Program on Friday at Gangneung Ice Arena that he is back and determined to defend his title. Spain’s two-time World Champion Javier Fernandez and World silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan are not far behind in second and third place, heading into the Free Skating on Saturday.
Martina Sáblíková (CZE) is going for a third consecutive Olympic 5000m title at the Gangneung Olympic Oval on Friday February 16. The Czech endurance specialist could become the second lady to win this event three times in a row after Claudia Pechstein (GER), who took gold in 1994-2002.
Ted-Jan Bloemen grabbed the first non-Dutch speed skating gold in a new Olympic 10000m record of 12:39.77 at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games. The Canadian world record holder caused a big upset in the Dutch camp, when he kept Sven Kramer (NED) off the only title he missed, and still misses, in his trophy cabinet.
The Men’s event at the Olympic Winter Games looks wide open and the battle between the “quad kings” should be fierce. All top contenders have multiple quadruple jumps planned and they will need them to get on to the podium in PyeongChang.
In an exciting Olympic Pairs final, Germany’s Aljona Savchenko / Bruno Massot soared to gold at Gangneung Ice Arena on Thursday, edging world champions Wenjing Sui / Cong Han of China by just 0.43 points to win the first Olympic pair skating gold for Germany in 66 years. Canada’s Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford earned the bronze medal.
Canada’s Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir added another Olympic gold medal to their impressive repertoire, coming out on top in a spectacular Olympic Ice Dance event at Gangneung Ice Arena on Tuesday. Two-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis / Guillaume Cizeron of France earned the silver medal in their Olympic debut and Maia Shibutani / Alex Shibutani (USA) claimed the bronze.
The 10,000m gold is the last major omission in Sven Kramer’s (NED) trophy cabinet. It’s the event he should have won twice, but never did. The 31-year-old Dutchmen is on a mission at PyeongChang 2018, but it is not going to be a walk in the park on Thursday night.