The first day of the inaugural Olympic team figure skating competition in Sochi wasn’t ideal for Team USA.
Jeremy Abbott finished seventh after a short program that saw him fall on the opening jump. On the other end of the spectrum, Yuzuru Hanyu scored a 97.98 in his short program to earn first place and ten points overall for Japan, while Russian hero Yevgeny Plushenko finished second with a score of 91.39 – much to the delight of the home crowd, who ate up the performance from the 2006 Olympic champion.
MORE: Even in second, Plushenko owns first night of team competition
With Abbott’s rough outing, the pressure was firmly on the pairs duo of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir (pictured) to make up ground for the Americans. They managed to earn a season-best score of 64.25 despite a bobble on side-by-side triple Salchows and finished fifth. The reigning world pairs champions, Russia’s Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, finished first by a margin of more than 10 points over Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
WATCH: Jeremy Abbott struggles during his program
After two events, Russia sits atop the overall team standings while the U.S. is in a three-way tie for fifth place alongside France and Germany. The competition continues on Saturday morning with the women’s short programs, short dance, and pairs’ free skate. Once all short programs are completed, only the top five teams will advance to the free skate portion.
TEAM FIGURE SKATING – STANDINGS (AFTER TWO EVENTS)
1. Russia – 19
2. Canada – 17
3. China – 15
4. Japan – 13
T-5. Germany – 10
T-5. France – 10
T-5. United States – 10
8. Italy – 8
9. Ukraine – 5
10. Great Britain – 3