Yevgeny Plushenko headlines a strong Russian figure skating team that looks to be the favorite for gold in the new Olympic team event.
Plushenko was named to his fourth Olympic Team, one day after performing in front of Russian officials in a test skate to determine if he would be the nation’s lone men’s singles skater.
Plushenko won Olympic silver in 2002, gold in 2006 and silver in 2010. He’s trying to become the second skater to win four Olympic singles medals, joining Swede Gillis Grafstrom, who won gold in 1920, 1924 and 1928 and silver in 1932.
Canada’s Patrick Chan and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu are seen as the top men, but the rest of the field has been up and down over the past season.
The Russian women are Yuliya Lipnitskaya, 15, and Adelina Sotnikova, 17, who went one-two at the European Championships last week. Lipnitskaya is seen as at least the favorite for bronze in Sochi, and she could enter the picture for gold with Yuna Kim and Mao Asada.
Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov lead three pairs teams. They are the reigning world and European champions but were beaten by German rivals Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy at the Grand Prix Final in December.
The other pairs teams are Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov and Ksenia Stolbova and Fyodor Klimov.
Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev are the top Russian ice dance couple and European champions. Ice dance gold is expected to come down to American world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Canadian Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
The other ice dance couples are Yelena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov and Viktoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin.
No other country can boast medal threats across all four figure skating disciplines, which bodes well for Russia’s chances in the team event that begins the day before the Opening Ceremony.