2014 Winter Olympics Preview: Figure Skating
By Eric Gold, Olympic Staff Writer
(SportsNetwork.com) - There won't be a repeat men's singles champion at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, although the ladies could see a back-to-back gold medal winner for the first time in a quarter century.
American Evan Lysacek won't defend his figure skating title due to a hip injury. He tore the labrum in his left hip in August and has not competed since winning the Olympic gold medal in 2010. He was the first American man in 24 years to win the Olympic title.
Three-time Winter Games medalist Evgeni Plushenko of Russia will no doubt be the crowd favorite as this will be his final Olympics, but he won't try for individual gold. Instead, Plushenko will focus on attempting to give Russia a first-place showing in the new team event.
The 31-year-old, who won gold in 2006 along with silver medalist in 2002 and '10, had lost his eligibility four years ago due to participating in skating shows without the Russian Figure Skating Federation's approval, but he got it back later that year and won the European Championships in 2012. A year later, he underwent surgery on his back. He has since recovered, but didn't win the most recent Russian National Championships.
The team event starts the day before the Opening Ceremonies and concludes Feb. 9. It will combine each of the four disciplines - men's and women's singles, pairs, and ice dancing.
Jeremy Abbott, who recently won his fourth U.S. title, will try for a rise in placing from four years ago. Abbott finished ninth in the 2010 Vancouver Games. Jason Brown, who finished second at nationals, will join Abbott, and Max Aaron will be the first alternate.
Three-time world champion Patrick Chan headlines the Canadians in the event. The 23-year-old Chan, a seven-time (2008-2014) Canadian champion, placed fifth in the men's event four years ago in Vancouver.
Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, who won bronze at the 2010 Olympics, is also a top contender. Fellow countryman Yuzuru Hanyu, who upset Chan at the 2013 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, also will get a close look.
On the women's side, reigning gold medalist Kim Yu-Na of South Korea has a tough road to a repeat gold medal because of an injury to her right foot. In late September, it was announced Kim would miss about six weeks of action. The two-time World champion made her comeback in early December and won the Golden Spin in Croatia.
Kim will try to become the first repeat gold medalist in the ladies' singles since Katarina Witt in 1984 and '88.
There's been only one U.S. medalist in the ladies' singles in the past two Olympics and that was a silver by Sasha Cohen in 2006 at Torino. In fact, four years ago in Vancouver marked the first time since 1964 that an American woman didn't win an Olympic medal.
U.S. champion Gracie Gold and runner-up Polina Edmunds headline the American contingent for the women. Two-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner earned a spot on the roster, while Mirai Nagasu was not given a spot despite her third-place finish at nationals in January. Wagner was fifth in last year's world championships and came up short of the Vancouver Olympics four years ago when she finished third in the U.S. championships and the Americans had just two spots in the 2010 Games.
Japan's Mao Asada, who will likely retire this year, won a silver medal four years ago. She finished in third place in last month's Japanese Figure Skating championships. That competition was won by Akiko Suzuki, who also will make her second straight trip to the Winter Games. Two-time world champion Miki Ando will not participate in the Olympics, as she became a mother last year and ultimately announced her retirement following last month's Japanese championships.
Italy's Carolina Kostner, the 2012 World Figure Skating champion, and Russia's Adelina Sotnikova also will be on the radar to reach the medal stand.
The three U.S. ice dance teams going to Sochi will be 2010 Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, the pairs champions from Saturday, will be joined in Russia by runners-up Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay.
The German duo of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, the bronze medal winners in Vancouver, headlines the contenders in the pairs competition.
Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman will take the ice in the women's competition for Canada. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir return to defend their Olympic ice dancing title. National champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford headline the pairs competition for the Canadians.
01/14 09:51:50 ET