Although the U.S. entered the inaugural Olympic figure skating team event at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi favored to wind up on the podium, an error-pocked Feb. 6 short program by reigning national champion Jeremy Abbott could put the nation's medal hopes on ice.
Abbott faced the daunting task of skating after home crowd favorite Evgeni Plushenko, who posted a second-best mark of 91.39 as he generated gregarious cheers from the audience, and struggled from the get-go. He fell on his opening jump, and looked uncomfortable throughout the routine. His dismal final score of 65.65 left him a disappointing seventh, and added only four points to the nation's cumulative team total.
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu closed out the round with a sparkling, field-topping skate that earned him a whopping score of 97.98. The complete results and team point totals earned are as follows:
- Japan, Yuzuru Hanyu, 97.98, 10 points
- Russia, Evgeni Plushenko, 91.39, 9 points
- Canada, Patrick Chan, 89.71, 8 points
- China, Han Yan, 85.52, 7 points
- France, Florence Amodio, 79.93, 6 points
- Germany, Peter Liebers, 79.61, 5 points
- USA, Jeremy Abbott, 65.65, 4 points
- Ukraine, Yakov Godorozha, 60.51, 3 points
- Great Britain, Matthew Parr, 57.50, 2 points
- Italy, Paul Bonifacio Parkinson, 53.94, 1 point
Given that the of-late inconsistent Plushenko was the Russian team's sole potential weak link, they could be hard to beat for gold.
Abbott's Olympic struggles are well-documented. Despite having four U.S. titles under his belt, he imploded at the 2010 Vancouver Games, finishing only ninth as teammate Evan Lysacek captured the gold.
The figure skating team event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi continue Feb. 6 with the pairs short programs.