With seamless footwork and high-flying quadruple jumps, Nathan Chen, the gold medal favorite in the men’s singles event, easily finished first on Friday in the men’s short program of the team event, giving the US team an edge to win a
More than that, though, Chen took a huge step in redeeming himself after a disappointing showing at the 2018 Games, where falls and mistakes in the short programs of both the team and the singles events fell cavernously short of. After a spectacular performance in the long program in Pyeongchang, he finished fifth in singles.
Performing in a black tuxedo and a white T-shirt to a version of “La Bohème” on Friday, Chen landed two quadruple jumps, including one quadruple-Lutz/triple-toe-loop combination, that helped him score 111.71 points, his最高。
But with the men’s singles event scheduled for next week, he is not celebrating just yet.
“There will be a time and place for that,” said Chen, a three-time world champion with just one loss since the 2018 worlds. “You know, I still have a lot more to do ahead of me. Of course, I’m very, very happy. I might not be the most like a motive person, but deep down, I’m genuinely very happy.”
The team skating event is a hybrid competition in which 10 nations send out skaters in all four disciplines. (Well, not all of the teams in all of the disciplines, it turns out; positive coronavirus tests have already wrecked the scoring chances — and thus the medal hopes — of the teams from Germany and Ukraine.)
The format makes the event like a mini-Olympics all in one. Each nation enters a man, a woman, a pairs team and a set of ice dancers, and each performs two routines, just as they do in their main competitions.
The team event is not only a medal event in its own right, though; it is also a chance for savvy skating fans to mine for clues about who seems to be in good form for the big events still to come. Countries typically send out their top skaters but countries can swap out up to two skaters or teams between programs. Four years ago, for example, Chen skated the short program for the Americans, and Adam Rippon took the free skate.
After a one-day break, the competition resumes on Sunday and Monday. The nation with the best combined score wins the gold.
That most likely will not be Germany or Ukraine. The Germans will not be able to score any points in pairs, as one half of its team, Nolan Seegert, tested positive for the virus, and Ukraine will receive no points in the men’s portion, as Ivan Shmuratko was ruled out for the same reason 。
The event has been contested at the Olympics twice, and the medalists each time were Canada, Russia and the United States. Japan could also be a contender this time around.
Other events on Friday will do their best to avoid the opening ceremony. Mixed doubles curling continues with the United States seeking a win against Sweden after starting the competition with a 1-2 record. There are also two women’s hockey games on the schedule, although the big favorites, the United States and Canada, have the day off.