The final field for the inaugural Olympic figure skating team event at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi will include the squad representing the U.S., thanks to a pair of solid short programs delivered Feb. 8 by reigning ice dance world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White and former two-time national champ Ashley Wagner.
Davis and White took top honors in their segment of the event, besting training mates and chief rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada by a mark of 75.98 to the Canadians' 72.98. The 10 points they contributed to the nation's total brought the team into bronze medal position behind home crowd favorite Russia and Canada.
The ladies were last to skate. Wagner, whose nomination to the Olympic team despite a tepid set of performances that led to a disappointing fourth place finish at nationals in January drew significant criticism, put her game face on and delivered a strong enough skate to finish fourth. The seven points she earned gave the U.S. a short program round total of 27, which was good enough to hold onto third place and advance the team to the final long program round. Wagner's success under pressure should silence some of the critics who have questioned her presence in Sochi.
The other four teams that earned berths in the medal round final, which began with the pairs long programs at 10:10 AM PT on Feb. 8., include Russia, Canada, Japan and Italy. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir will skate for the U.S.
The U.S. entered the competition as one of the favorites for gold, but a disastrous short program by four-time men's national champion Jeremy Abbot on Feb. 6 quickly put their chances of a podium finish in jeopardy.
The figure skating team event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will conclude Feb. 9 as the first-ever Games event champion is crowed.