Russia was crowned the winner of the inaugural Olympic Team Event. The host country accumulated enough points in the Free Programs from the oldest skater, Evgeni Plushenko, 31, and the youngest, Julia Lipnitskaya, 15, to be victorious. Ice dancers, Ilinykh+Katsalapov’s, points were added to the total.
Team Russia was first (75 points). The gold medalists had 5/8 first place marks: Ladies’ (s-10)
(f-10) Pairs (s-10) (f-10) Men (f-10). The other 25 points came from Men (s-9) and Ice Dance (s-8) (f-8).
Team Canada was second (65 points). The silver medalists had 5/8 second place marks: Dance (s-9) (f-9) Pairs (s-9) (f-9) Men (f-9). The other 20 points came from Men (s-8) and Ladies (s-6) (f-6).
Team USA was third (60 points). The bronze medalists had 2/8 first place marks: Dance (s-10)
(f-10). The other 40 points came from Men (s-4) (f-7) Ladies (s-7) (f-9) Pairs (s-6) (f-7).
#1 TEAM RUSSIA
Evgeni Plushenko set the tone for the day as he slowly circled the ice soaking up the cheers and adulation bestowed on him by his countrymen. That was before he even struck an opening pose. His music was a compilation of what Coach Aleksei Mishin called, “The Best of Plushenko”. Opening with a 4T to the familiar sounds of The Godfather, the four-time Olympian landed 5 triples, but switched off two more to doubles after his back began to hurt. The 31 year old underwent surgery last year for a deteriorated disc in his spine.
Nick McCarvel of NBC Olympics tweeted that Plushenko was visibly limping in the Mixed Zone area. The Russian favorite greeted the reporters with, “I skated for my kids, my wife, my country. I look forward to a day off tomorrow”. He told NBC commentator, Andrea Joyce, “I will skate in four days”.
Evgeni Plushenko is now the most decorated Olympic skater in the modern era. He won gold in men’s singles in 2006, and silver in 2002 and 2010.
Fifteen year-old, Julia Lipnitskaya, wearing a theme-appropriate red costume wowed the partisan crowd with her emotional skate to Shindler’s List. Theyoungster wove her six clean triples and three Level4 spins in and out of the somber music. The ‘par excellence’ flexibility displayed by the GPF silver medalist was reminiscent of the USA’s former Olympian, Sasha Cohen. Lipnitskaya’s 141.51 score was a personal best. She is now the youngest figure skater to earn a gold medal.
It was reported that the audience was so captivated by Lipnitskaya that it barely realized Russian President Vladimir Putin had entered the Iceberg Skating Palace.
On Sunday, Lipnitskaya and her coach returned to Moscow for more ice time.
The Russian team had secured the gold medal after the Men and Ladies Free Programs. So ice dancers, Ilinykh+Katsalapov, could have gone AWOL, and not performed their Swan Lake program. Instead, they mesmerized the audience with unusual lifts created in collaboration withCirc de Soleil members.
Ilinykh, dressed in a black ballet tulle dress with beaded embroidery and feathers was a picture of elegance in her swan-like lift standing atop Katsalapov’s stomach. Unfortunately a feather fell off near the end of the performance and caused a -1 point costume deduction. The European silver medalists didn’t allow it to detract from their celebration.
#2 TEAM CANADA
Quadmeister, Kevin Reynolds, was skating against the tide in his effort to beat the Russians. The numbers wouldn’t add up. In spite of hitting 3 quads, one in combination, and 3 clean triples, he had to settle for 2nd place.
The Canadian silver medalist missed the entire GP Series due to boot problems. He’s had eight pairs, and the current one is just “tolerable”. “I got in three good weeks of training, and I’ m happy with what I did. It’s a great start”, he told reporters after the event.
Kaetlyn Osmond, skating for the second time in two days, took a nasty fall on the 3Lz and doubled a planned 3F. “It still wasn’t technically a program I was doing in practice, but it was still really strong”, commented Osmond. At times, her music from the Cleopatresound track seemed a bit heavy for the 18 year-old. The spunky Canadian champion showed no signs of the stress facture in her left foot that kept her out of her 2013 GP assignment at Skate America.
Osmond is the first female athlete from Newfoundland to win an Olympic medal.
Virtue+Moir, reining Olympic gold medalists, had a few shaky moments in their Free Dance. Virtue caught an edge on a lift, which caused them to be slightly out of step. The team was not happy with their skate. “We got smoked today,” Moir said. “Not even close.” He added that the missed elements were technical issues and could be worked out for their next competition. The Canadian champion added, “It’s a very demanding program, but we’re still building on it.”
Reflecting on the Team Trophy event, Moir smiled proudly and said, “There were a lot of personal bests here, and I can’t wait to stand on the podium with everyone.”
#3 TEAM USA
Jason Brown, 2014 US silver medalist, looked very serious as he slowly moved toward the Olympic rings at center ice to perform Riverdance. The 19 year old had a solid 3A+3T, combination, but under rotated the second 3A. The fall on the back end of the 3Lz+3S sequence somewhat tarnished the lustre and spark to the program. The spins were L4.
Brown told NBC reporter, Andrea Joyce, “At the beginning, I wanted to do well for the team. As the program went on, I became more relaxed and I just wanted to perform for the team.”
Brown was over the moon when Evgeni Plushenko approached him in practice to say how much he loved his skating. The star-struck teen shrieked back, “I love yours, too.” After sharing the story, Brown added, “It’s so surreal. I watched him win silver in 2002. Four Olympics later, I’m on the same ice.”
Gracie Gold, 2014 US National Champion, gained more and more confidence as she methodically completed each element of her Sleeping Beauty Free Program. The eighteen year old dazzled the audience with her seven triples and Level4 spins. “I am really pleased. I did what I wanted to do. There were little things. A couple of spins were slower than I wanted them to be. I want to fix a few landings.” Gold received a personal best score of 129.38.
After the event, Gold went to Austria to train with her Coach, Scott Brown. “I’m heading out for a few days to detach myself from this experience so I can refocus on the single event,” said Gold.
Davis+White, 2010 Olympic silver medalists, used artistic and technical perfection to win the Free Program. The audience watched like flies on a wall as the young maiden seduced and enticed the king into sparing her life. The 6 time US National Champions received Level4 on their spins, twizzles and lifts. The 114.34 score was a personal best and the highest Free Dance ever recorded.
“We’re so proud to be part of Team USA,” White said. “We’re really happy to go out there and support the team and do everything we could on the ice.”
#4 TEAM ITALY
Paul Bonifacio Parkinson was born in Ottawa, ON, Canada and originally competed for Canada. In 2010 he began competing for Italy, where his mother was born. He trains in Colorado Springs, CO, USA alongside 2013 US National Champion, Max Aaron. He skated in both the Short and Free Programs and scored a total 7 points.
Valentina Marchai, four-time Italian Champion, placed 3rd after vaulting over Japan’s Akiko Suzuki and Canadian, Kaetlyn Osmond. The 27 year old did four clean triples to earn a personal best 112.51 score. Marchai trains in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA with Jason Dungjen and Yuka Sato.
Guignard+Fabbri skated to Romeo+Juliet and earned Level4 for their spins and lifts. The step sequence was their nemesis, earning only Level2. The young team trains part time in Novi, Michigan, USA, with Igor Shpilband. They placed 4th and earned 7 points.
#5 TEAM JAPAN
Tatsuki Machida, 2013 Skate America gold medalist, skated to Firebird, choreographed by two time World Champion Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland. Machida had a hard fall in practice earlier in the week.
He has worked hard to master the quad, landing only 2 in 2012, but already 15 in 2013-14. He landed one in the Team event, but missed the second. He earned Level4 for two spins.
The Japanese silver medalist placed 3rd and scored 8 points.
Akiko Suziko skated a soft and lyrical program to Phantom of the Opera. Unfortunately she under rotated several jumps that lowered her score. Suziko, 28, is the oldest of the ladies competing in the Team Trophy. She plans to retire after the Olympics. Her coach of many years says, “Akiko’s greatest weapon is her heart.”
Reed+Reed skated to Shogun, in authentic Japanese costumes. The siblings are the 2006 U.S. Novice Dance Champions. Cathy Reed was too old at the time to compete as a junior internationally. In the 2006-2007 season, the Reeds accepted an offer to compete for Japan, the birthplace of their mother. They skipped juniors and advanced immediately to the senior level. The team earned three Level4 spins, Level 3 twizzles, and Level 2 step sequences. The Reeds placed 5th and scored 6 points.
- Russia 75 *
- Canada 65 *
- USA 60 *
- Italy 52
- Japan 51
- Great Britain