Vancouver Olympics Figure Skating

January 10, 2017
Vancouver Olympics Figure
Figure Skating
Toru Yamanaka/ Agence France-Presse- Getty Images

The Pacific Coliseum will be the showcase for the quadrennial theatrics. The singles and pairs competitions consist of two parts: the short program, in which a skater has to perform eight required elements over 2 minutes 50 seconds, and the longer free skate, which is the more creative, idiosyncratic and memorable. Men and pairs skate for a maximum of about 4:30, the women for 4 minutes. The ice dancing is played out in three parts: compulsory, original and free dances.

Figure skating is an elegant, sexy, free-spirited, balletic sport with a pantheon of gold medalists who include Peggy Fleming, Brian Boitano, Katarina Witt, Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton, Sonja Henie, Viktor Petrenko and Dick Button. But its on-ice panache has been tainted by judging scandals and the storied whacking of Nancy Kerrigan’s knee before the 1994 Lillehammer Games by Tonya Harding’s mercenaries.

If human behavior cannot be changed, judging has. The 2006 Turin Games ushered in a new and complicated scoring system that assigns values to each skating element based on its difficulty, and masks the individual judges’ scores behind a cloak of computerized anonymity. The reaction to a French judge saying she was pressured to vote for a Russian pair to win at the 2002 Salt Lake Games led to the reform.

As a result, the pursuit of a perfect 6.0 score was replaced by a torrent of numbers. In Turin, the singles gold medalists were Shizuka Arakawa of Japan and Evegni Plushenko of Russia. Plushenko’s countrymen also won in pairs and dancing. In Vancouver, women like the world champion Kim Yu-na of Korea, Mao Asada of Japan and Joannie Rochette of Canada are prominent contenders, while Evan Lycasek, the reigning men’s world champion, Patrick Chan of Canada and Nobunari Oda of Japan are among the men’s favorites.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Olympic medal ceremony for women’s figure skating brought the rarest of sights. For the first time, the South Korean flag was raised, in the gold medal position. And for the first time since 1964, the flag of the United States was not raised at all.

To the Sports Editor: Re “Valuing Consistency Over the Big Trick, ” Feb. 20: The Olympian Yevgeny Plushenko was quoted saying: “Now it’s not figure skating. Now it’s dancing.” In fact, it hasn’t been figure skating for more than 20 years.

Steve Holcomb wins the United States' first gold medal in bobsled since 1948, JaseyJay Anderson grabs Canada's second snowboarding gold, figureskating woes for Russia and more from Day 16 in Vancouver.

There were going to be tears Thursday night during the finale in women’s figure skating; that was as guaranteed as the stream of flowers that litter the ice after each routine.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — So many times in the days before the women’s figure skating final on Thursday, Joannie Rochette wanted to pack up and go home. She yearned to unlace her skates and take her father, Normand, back to their home in Ile-Dupas, a town of 600 about an hour outside of Montreal.

From experience, three things happen the moment that you let it slip that you used to be a figure skater: there is an incredulous pause, a sharp “Really?” and laughter. The order of the first two can change, but the exchange always ends in laughter.

With Yu Na Kim of Korea's gold medal and Mao Asada of Japan's silver medal skates on Thursday...

Dreams of gold and glory in figure skating are very elusive. To become a champion, start with talent, money, monomania and a topranked coach.

Japanese figure skating star Mao Asada says she is looking ahead to next month's world championships, despite losing to South Korean rival Kim YuNa at the Vancouver Olympics.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Dressed in azure, skating to Gershwin, Kim Yu-na of South Korea seemingly floated to the clouds with her soaring jumps and airy elegance Thursday night, winning an Olympic gold medal and her rightful place as one of the greatest women’s figure skaters of all time.

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