Russian figure skating team overtakes USA for top spot

As Kamila Valieva slid across the ice, a rain of camera shutters echoed through the Olympic figure skating arena. She was the skater to watch on day two of the team event, and it’s no wonder.

She landed each of her jumps by stroking the ice and floated throughout her program without showing the slightest effort. At 15, she is the favorite for the gold medal in the women’s individual competition next week. And her impressive performance on Sunday in the women’s short program also earned her a first-place finish, lifting her Russian team from second to first.

His score of 90.18 was below his season’s best of 90.45, but he passed his nearest challenger, Wakaba Higuchi of Japan, who scored 74.73.

Only five of the 10 countries in the team event advanced to the next stage of the competition. The men’s free skate is scheduled for later Sunday.

The United States heads into this second phase in second place after dropping from first place overall on Sunday, in part due to the unexpected arrival of Karen Chen in the short program. Chen, who finished fourth at the 2021 world championships, fell on her triple loop and finished a disappointing fifth, with a score of 65.20.

Japan, Canada and China were the other countries to qualify for the second leg of the team event.

On Friday, the first day of team competition, the American skaters who competed in their short programs all set personal bests.

Nathan Chen, the favorite for gold in men’s singles, won; as are ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue. Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier finished third in pairs.

The men’s free skate is scheduled to start at noon (11 p.m. EST). Two-time Olympian Vincent Zhou will skate for the United States. When he won Skate America in October, he became the first man since March 2018 to beat teammate Nathan Chen, a three-time world champion.

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