This year’s Sochi Olympics figure skating competition is scheduled to begin at the newly built Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi Feb. 6, one day before the official start of the Olympics, and end Feb. 22 with the figure skating gala exhibition. Olympic skating this year will have five events for the first time. A new event has been added to the traditional solo men’s, ladies’ and pairs skating competitions and the ice dancing division, which was added to the Olympics in 1976.
The team event in figure skating will be featured at Sochi for the first time. Because of this extra event, Olympic skating will have an unusual schedule this year. Skating events will begin Feb. 6, the day before the Sochi Games officially begin.
2014 Sochi Olympics Figure Skating Schedule
The heavy favorites to win this year are the defending gold medalist Yuna Kim of South Korea and the U.S. ice dancing team Meryl Davis and Charlie White. It has also been remarked that Canada and Japan have particularly strong chances to win in the skating divisions.
The countries with the most skaters this year are Canada (17 athletes), the United States (15), Russia (15), Italy (11), France (11), Japan (10), Germany (10) and China (9). A total of 149 skaters from 30 countries will participate in the combined Olympic skating events. This number reflects the extra man Great Britain is being permitted to send to the games in order for that country to participate in the team event. The actual number of quota spots set by the International Olympic Committee is 148.
There will be 30 skaters in the Sochi Olympics men’s and ladies’ singles. There will be 20 pair skating teams at Sochi, and 24 ice dancing teams. Another 10 countries will participate in the team event.
On Feb. 22, a figure skating gala exhibition will be held as the culmination to the skating portion of the Sochi Winter Olympics. At this gala the top five pairs and top five men’s and ladies’ solo skaters will give a performance without consideration of judges scorecards.
At the last Olympics in Vancouver, Tessa Virtue, 20, and Scott Moir, 22, of the Canadian team won the gold in ice dancing. The pair was the first non-European team to win in 34 years. Most of those three decades of wins went to Soviet/CIS/Russian teams.
The ladies’ event in 2010 was won by South Korea’s 19-year-old Yu-Na Kim. The silver went to Japan’s Mao Asada and the bronze went to Canadian Joannie Rochette. Asada was able to land three triple axels in one competition–an Olympic first–but it was not enough to beat the high-scoring Kim.
The pair skating gold at Vancouver went to China’s Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, the first Chinese skaters ever to win gold. The men’s singles gold went to U.S.A.’s Evan Lysacek.
In 2010, no European skater, dance tea or pair took home a first. This had not happened since 1960. Also, no U.S. woman won any solo medals for the first time since the 1960s.
In 2010, 31 teams competed in figure skating. Russia brought 16 skaters, the United States brought 15, and Canada brought 12. China, Ukraine, Germany, Great Britain and Japan all brought between seven and nine skaters.
Figure skating was begun as an Olympic event in the 1908 Summer Olympics that took place in London. It was also part of the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games. Figure skating is among the oldest Winter Olympic sports, having its first competition at the 1924 Chamonix Olympics. Throughout the period since Chamonix, the three skating events had been men’s and ladies’ solos and pairs skating until 1976, when ice dancing was added in Innsbruck, Austria. This year’s Sochi Olympics figure skating schedule will mark the first time team skating will be competing at the Olympics, the fifth skating event.
By Day Blakely Donaldson