Olympics 2018: All the figure skating routines you need to see before the competition begins
Figure skating is one of the most dazzling and dramatic events at the Winter Olympics (just ask Margot Robbie, Oscar-nominated for her performance as Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding).
Luckily for those who can’t get enough, there are five chances for Team USA to win big at the rink, all broadcast live on NBC in primetime: Team (begins Feb. 8 at 8 p.m.), Pairs (begins Feb. 13 at 8 p.m.), Men’s Singles (begins Feb. 15 at 8 p.m.), Women’s Singles (begins Feb. 20 a 8 p.m.), and Ice Dancing (begins Feb. 18 at 8 p.m.).
Here are all the routines to watch before these skaters compete in PyeongChang, from Team USA’s “ShibSibs” Alex and Maia Shibutani to Japanese gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu, who’s been called “Michael Jackson on Ice.”
First up, Team USA:
Though there are plenty of heavy-hitters in the competition, 18-year-old Chen is a strong favorite to bring home the top prize. He’s the first man to land seven quadruple jumps in a single competition and the first to complete five quadruple jumps in a program, seen below.
Rippon, one of the first-ever openly gay U.S. Olympians, has made headlines outside of the sport for an alleged feud with VP Mike Pence. But first and foremost, he’s a great skater, whom The Atlantic called “perhaps the greatest artist of the men’s field today.”
At 17, Zhou is the youngest 2018 U.S. Olympian. But age ain’t nuthin’ but a number: Zhouwon gold at the 2017 World Junior Championship, the first U.S. man to do so since 2013.
Chen was the 2017 U.S. National Champion and considers Kristi Yamaguchi as her role model. Leading into the Games, the iconic Olympic skater gave Chen a shout out, saying, “America is rooting for you!”
Nagasu last competed in the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 when she was just 16 years old. This year, she’s hinted at attempting a new jump for the Olympic competition: the triple Axel, which has only been performed by two other female skaters (one of them, of course, being the aforementioned Tonya Harding).
PyeongChang marks Tennell’s first Olympics. The 20-year-old earned her spot with a first-place showing at the National Championships, after which Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski called her “a machine.”
Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim
This married couple won the chance to compete in the sole slot available for pairs (the smallest quota allotted to the U.S. in this event since the first Winter Olympics in 1924). They have an edge with their signature move, the split quadruple twist; they’re the only U.S. pair to ever execute the move in competition.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates
This will be this duo’s second Olympics, but their first as a romantic couple. They’ve said they look forward to spending Valentines Day together at the Games, but moreso, the chance to win another medal in PyeongChang. They won bronze at the Four Continents Championships in 2017, held at the same venue as this year’s Olympics.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue
Despite a disappointing showing at last year’s World Championships, Hubbell and Donohue refused to be kept down. After a renewed sense of purpose — and training with the best ice dancers from France and Canada — the duo came back to win gold at the U.S. National Championships, clinching their spot on the Olympic team.
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani
Affectionately dubbed the “ShibSibs,” The Shibutanis, who competed in Sochi in 2014, have won a medal at every National Championship at the Senior level since 2011, as well as earning medals at both the Four Continents and World Championship competitions. They also have their own YouTube channel where they document their journey.
NEXT PAGE: The biggest contenders from other countries
Wondering about the skaters from other countries? Well, here are the athletes to watch in each of the four events:
Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan
The gold medalist at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, The New York Times called Hanyu “Michael Jackson on Ice.” He recently suffered an ankle injury that interrupted his training, but he’ll likely remain a strong contender in PyeongChang.
Shoma Uno, Japan
Since Yuzuru Hanyu is sitting out the team competition due to his injury, Uno, a Worlds silver medalist, will lead Japan in the team event. “I will do everything I can to contribute to the team and take that experience with me into the individual competition,” he said.
Javier Fernandez, Spain
This will be Fernandez’s third Olympics, most recently placing fourth in Sochi. Despite fierce competition, he hopes to make history as the first Spanish figure skater to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.
Kaetlyn Osmond, Canada
Osmond previously helped bring Canada a silver medal in the team event in Sochi, but she’s now a strong contender for the Women’s Singles competition after winning a silver medal of her own at the 2017 World Championships.
Evgenia Medvedeva, Olympic Athletes of Russia
Medvedeva is a two-time world champion and a strong favorite for a medal in PyeongChang, as well as a fierce advocate for Russian athletes‘ eligibility amidst the country’s doping scandal. But she also has a playful side: She’s skated as magical girl Sailor Moon, and in the 2018 European Championships, she embodied Anna Karenina with a number from the soundtrack of the 2012 Tolstoy adaptation.
Alina Zagitova, Olympic Athletes of Russia
It’s possible Medvedeva’s biggest competition comes in the form of her training partner, 15-year-old Zagitova. Zagitova told Reuters that the pair are friends. “In practice, we have a rivalry, but not in a bad way,” she said.
Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik, North Korea
After rare talks between North and South Korea, the latter announced that North Korea would be sending athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics. The registration deadline was even extended so that Ryom and Kim would be allowed to compete.
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, China
After winning gold at Worlds in 2017, PyeongChang will be the pair’s first Olympic showing. PyeongChang also marks the first Olympics where skaters are allowed to perform to songs with lyrics, which helps this duo’s routine to “Hallelujah.” “Sometimes music with vocals, it brings out more passion,” Han told The New York Times.
Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, Germany
Neither Savchenko nor Massot are native Germans, but they earned German citizenship in order to compete together. Massot nearly didn’t make it in time for PyeongChang: He failed the written portion of his citizenship test twice. Third time was the charm for this duo, and Massot’s citizenship came through just in time for Olympic eligibility.
Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, Olympic Athletes of Russia
Part of the contingent designated “The Olympic Athletes of Russia,” Tarasova and Morozov are two-time European champions and won bronze in the 2017 World Championship. Their playful costuming and choreography to Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman” makes for a playful, high-energy romp.
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, France
Although this is their first Olympics showing, Papadakis and Cizeron are two-time Worlds champs and favorites for Olympic medals alongside their training partners from Canada (see below). At the 2017 World Championships, Papadakis and Cizeron had the highest-ever recorded score in the free dance with 119.15 points.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Canada
Virtue and Moir are already Olympic champions, winning gold in 2010 and silver in 2014. The duo is ready to bring the star power to PyeongChang, although they did recently decide to tone down their sensual Moulin Rouge routine for the Olympic judges.
Click here to see the full TV schedule of events at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.