The U.S. could win its first medal at the Sochi Olympics in the new figure skating team event, but the competition for gold will be tight if qualification is any indication.
The International Skating Union published its list of the 10 qualified nations into the event Tuesday.
The U.S. had the third highest qualification score, which is tabulated based on results across men’s, women’s, ice dancing and pairs from the last two seasons.
It ranked behind Canada and Olympic host Russia.
Here are the full rankings:
1. Canada (6,053 points)
2. Russia (5,459)
3. U.S. (5,274)
4. Japan (4,062)
5. Italy (3,707)
6. France (3,626)
7. China (3,609)
8. Germany (3,596)
9. Ukraine (1,528)
10. Great Britain (1,261)
Canada is very strong across three of four disciplines, led by world champion Patrick Chan and Olympic champion ice dance couple Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. It also had the third- and fourth-best pairs teams at the World Championships in March.
If it has any weakness, it’s the lack of an elite women’s skater with the absence of Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette. Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond was eighth at worlds and sidelined with a hamstring injury this season.
Russia is home to world champion pairs skaters Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov and world bronze medalists ice dancers Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev. It also placed four women into the six-woman Grand Prix final field this past weekend, which is extraordinary depth.
Its question lies with the men and Yevgeny Plushenko‘s health as he bids for a fourth Olympics.
The U.S. is anchored by the world champions in ice dance, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. It also has Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Ashley Wagner.
The U.S. lacks a top-five pairs team, and it’s men’s picture is cloudy, particularly with Olympic champion Evan Lysacek not having competed since 2010.
The team event will begin the night before the opening ceremony (Thursday, Feb. 6) and wrap up two nights after the cauldron is lit (Sunday, Feb. 9).
Each nation entered will have men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance skaters perform one short program and one free skate each (total of eight). The event will include 10 nations with a cut down to five after the short programs. The highest cumulative scores will determine the medals.
Two skaters (or two couples or one skater and one couple) may be subbed out after the short program. For example, the U.S. could enter Ashley Wagner in the women’s short and Gracie Gold in the women’s free skate, granted Wagner and Gold make the Olympic team in singles.
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