Senior ManagerThis year marked the debut of a new even in figure skating, the team event. The premise of the event is simple enough, each country picked one representative for each of the 4 events (men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance) to compete to rack up points that are tallied up and the highest point total wins the gold medal. Many countries, including Canada and the United States, decided to ‘play it safe’ and put forward some of their second picks instead of their top ranked competitors, allowing them to rest up for the individual competitions this week. Russia’s team was a mixture of experience and fresh blood with Evgeni Plushenko leading the men’s field and Yulia Lipnitskaia bursting to the front of the pack of ladies competing. The short program results for the Russian team went down like this: - Evgeny Plyushchenko: 91.39 (2nd) - Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankow: 83.79 (1st) - Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev: 70.27 (3rd) - Yulia Lipitskaya: 72.90 (1st) So it was clear that the Russians were back to being a force to be reckoned with on the ice. Throughout Olympic history, Russia (or The Soviet Union) have racked up a total of 51 figure skating medals. The shocker was the zero gold medals in Vancouver four years ago. Not since 1960 have the Russians been completely shut out of the top spot on the podium. The long program saw improvement in placement across the board: - Evgeny Plyushchenko: 16820 (1st) - Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov: 135.09 (1st) - Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov: 103.48 (3rd) - Yulia Lipnitskaya: 141.51 (1st) With nothing below a third place finish, the Russians were able to easily garner a total of 75 points, putting them at the top of the podium, with Canada earning silver with 65 points and the United States bronze with 60 points. This return to figure skating supremacy left not only the skaters themselves elated (this is Evgeni’s 5th Olympic medal, his third gold) but Russian President Vladimir Putin as well, who was present at the Iceberg Skating Palace to watch the festivities. With results like these, other podium hopefuls, including Canada’s Patrick Chan, will have to put their best programs of the season forward if they hope to challenge the Russians for the gold!
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