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Valieva, Kagiyama have breakout team event performances; ROC takes lead

Valieva, Kagiyama have breakout team event performances; ROC takes lead
Posted at 8:08 PM, Feb 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-06 00:18:04-05

It was an exciting few hours of action on Day 2 of figure skating’s team event at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The eight-segment event reached its halfway point, eliminated half the field, and continued on.

Teenagers from the ROC - Kamila Valieva - and Japan - Yuma Kagiyama - impressed, while the Americans likely saw their low points.

Most notably, the standings were shaken up. The ROC took the lead from the U.S. and now has 45 points entering the final day and final three segments. The U.S. has 42 points and could go either way as Japan has 39.

WATCH ON DEMAND: NBC in Primetime  |  NBCOlympics.com  |  Peacock

Editor's note: Re-live the event as it unfolded in real time with our live blog updates below.

Women's Short Program

Team USA delivered on the first day of figure skating's team event at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Now with two more segments ahead and valuable points at stake, will the Americans continue to deliver on Saturday night (U.S. time)?

Nipping at their heels are the Russian skaters, this time representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), who are in second by only two points (28 to 26). ROC has its best shot at pulling ahead tonight with 15-year-old skating sensation Kamila Valieva.

Karen Chen, who twice has been fourth at the world championships, is representing the U.S. in her first Olympic team event but second Winter Games.

After the women's short program, the field of 10 countries will be cut in half with only the top five advancing into tonight's men's free skate.

Entering the night, the U.S. is first (28), ROC second (26), China third (21), Japan fourth (20), Italy fifth (18), Canada sixth (16), Georgia seventh (15), Czech Republic eighth (12), Ukraine ninth (4) and Germany 10th (3).

Group 1 feat. Gubanova

The first of two groups of women are on the ice for their six-minute warmup... China's Zhu Yi, Ukraine's Anastasia Shabotova, Czech Republic's Eliska Brezinova, Georgia's Anastasia Gubanova and Italy's Lara Gutmann.

8:44 p.m. ET: The start order for each segment in the team event is based on world standing in that discipline, so Zhu competes first for China. She falls on her triple toeloop in her opening combination and later pops an intended triple loop. Score: 47.03.

8:49 p.m. ET: The race for which countries will advance to the free skates/dance portion of the team event heats up with both Zhu and Shabotova's performances. The Ukrainian easily goes ahead of Zhu with a respectable 62.49 points.

8:56 p.m. ET: Brezinova is up next and if the name sounds vaguely familiar, that's because we watched her brother, Michal Brezina, a four-time Olympian compete for Czech Republic in the men's short program on Day 1 of the team event. He placed seventh, and she moves into second (61.05) for now with a popping "Sweet Dreams" remix that may have had you dancing at home.

9:03 p.m. ET: Gubanova potentially rounds out Georgia's Olympic team event debut, and beautifully so, jumping to first among the women with 67.56 points.

9:09 p.m. ET: Fun fact: Italy did not qualify any women's singles spots for these Olympics, but was granted a women's entry into the team event as it was ranked high enough collectively and had earned spots in the other three disciplines. So, Gutmann takes to the ice for what could be her sole performance here, unless of course Italy remains in the top five. Gutmann does almost all she can to help Italy advance and is in fourth for now, between Brezinova and Zhu.

 

Group 2 feat. Chen, Valieva

The final group is on the ice -- Canada's Madeline Schizas, German Nicole Schott, Japan's Wakaba Higuchi, Chen and Valieva.

9:23 p.m. ET: Schizas, who 12 years ago attended the Vancouver 2010 figure skating events in her home country, starts the group. Canada is the defending Olympic gold medalist in this event, but entered Day 2 of the team event in jeopardy of finishing sixth or lower. Schizas may have just saved her country with a standout performance that lands her 69.60 points and puts her into first.

9:31 p.m. ET: At her second Olympics, Schott has what two-time Olympian and NBC talent Johnny Weir calls her best performance ever. "I've never seen her on fire like that," he added. The 25-year-old scores 62.66 points and slides into third, behind Gubanova.

9:36 p.m. ET: Time for the heavy hitters of this segment. Higuchi, 21, is the 2018 world silver medalist in women's singles and has earned five Grand Prix medals in her career. Skating to Ellie Goulding's eerie version of Elton John's "Your Song," Higuchi leads now with 74.73 points to help Japan advance to the frees.

9:43 p.m. ET: Chen is up! Now 22, the 2017 U.S. champion competed at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games but was the only one of three U.S. women there not to compete in the team event. She has been known to come in clutch and deliver for Team USA but the inconsistent side of Chen came out here with a bit of a messy program. She under-rotated her triple toe and fell on her triple loop. A score of 65.20 and into fourth with Valieva next.

SEE MORE: Karen Chen's 2022 Olympics start with team event short

9:51 p.m. ET: The skater everyone had been waiting for when it came to women's singles at these Olympics does not disappoint. Valieva's opening triple axel made her the fourth woman to land that jump at the Olympics. "A talent like this comes along once in a lifetime," 1998 Olympic champion Tara Lipinski said on the NBC broadcast. The ROC skater earns 90.18 points, a few tenths from her world record score, and is 15.45 points ahead of second-place Higuchi.

To no surprise, Valieva moved ROC into first overall now with 36 points to the U.S.' 34.

Japan moved up to third (29), with Canada jumping from sixth to fourth (24) and China, which was third, now in fifth but moving on to the free portion with 22 points.

Georgia is the top nation of those eliminated, finishing sixth with 22 points (losing out on the tiebreaker), followed by Italy (seventh, 20), Czech Republic (eighth, 15), Germany (ninth, 8) and Ukraine (10th, 8).

Come back for the men's free skate at 10:50 p.m. ET, starring Team USA's Vincent Zhou.

SEE MORE: Figure skater Vincent Zhou tapped to compete for U.S. in team event

Men's Free Skate

11:05 p.m. ET: Now down to five countries (thus five entries per discipline), there will only be one warmup group in the free skate/dance segments. Canadian Roman Sadovsky kicked off the free skates. Sadovsky stepped in for Keegan Messing, who was stuck at home a few days more than expected due to COVID complications. Sadovsky takes a step out and puts his hand down on his opening quad salchow...hand down again on an axel. He scores 122.60 points.

11:13 p.m. ET: Jin Boyang with a quad lutz to open his program for China. Jin was fourth in PyeongChang and earned two world bronze medals before that. Today's program also includes two quad toeloops. He pops into first with 155.04 points.

11:21 p.m. ET: ROC's Mark Kondratyuk -- who was also in the short program for his country -- up next. Three quads in this program as well: opening toe, two salchows. Kondratyuk is first with an astounding 181.65 points.

11:30 p.m. ET: Yuma Kagiyama's Olympic debut has come. The 18-year-old really made a name for himself when he unexpectedly won the 2021 world silver medal behind Nathan Chen and ahead of Yuzuru Hanyu. Now he also stuns in his first Olympic appearance with four quads in this program (salchow, loop, toe, toe) aaaand obliterates his personal best by 11.45 points with a score of 208.94 here. Only Zhou remains...

11:37 p.m. ET: The 21-year-old finally gets to perform his "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" program in front of a Chinese crowd (more on that here), and like Kagiyama's, this program does include four quads but the performance is far from Zhou's best, with all of them under-rotated or under review. He scores 171.44 points and is into third behind Kagiyama and Kondratyuk.

ROC still leads with 45 points and the U.S. is smack dab in second at 42, three points behind first and ahead of third. Japan has 39 points.

Canada is well back in fourth with 30 and China fighting for that spot just one point behind.