Please note: This article discusses the results of the ladies’ event, which some American readers may be waiting until tonight to view on NBC. If you don’t want it spoiled, don’t read the last part.
Having written two articles examining the field of skaters at this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, and having made predictions in the second article as to who would win all of the medals, it seems only fitting that I now call attention to both my successes and failures. I am going to keep it brief, as I have already devoted a substantial amount of space to the subject.
A victory for Amy – I was 3/3! Of course, given the larger number of participants and thus the substantially higher margin for error, this accomplishment might not seem all that impressive. How did the skaters react to competing in the team event? Most of them seemed to treat it as a warm up for the real show, which was their individual event. However, the gold medals Russia gained here are just as shiny as any others, and for most members of the Canadian and American teams, the team medals were the only ones they ended up taking home. I feel like there still needs to be some adjustment to this format by the skaters, but I would enjoy seeing it back in years to come, and I suspect more and more skaters will desire to participate.
I was correct in predicting Volosozhar & Trankov for the gold medal, and I did put the top Russian team, the Germans, and the Chinese in the correct order of how they would place. My mistake was in not predicting the rapid improvement of the number two Russian pair, Stolbova & Klimov. They pulled off a pair of electric skates to earn the silver medal, their best result ever in such a big international competition. Not to take anything away from them, but I am fairly certain that had Savchenko & Solkowy not gone through with their ill-advised plan to attempt a throw Triple Axel in the closing seconds of their program, they would have won the silver. I guess that’s life!
Why, oh why was I not brave enough to predict that Yuzuru Hanyu would win? I actually explained in my article exactly how he could beat Patrick Chan even without skating perfectly. (As it turned out, Chan helped him out quite a bit.) Alas, I got #1 and #2 messed up. Then there was Denis Ten, to whom I owe an apology for not even mentioning him. The truth is, I considered Ten to be a real contender after he won the silver at last year’s world championship (and deserved to win the gold), but this season had been very rocky for him prior to the Olympics. Credit his coach Frank Carroll for helping him to get things pulled together when it really counted. Ten’s jump from ninth after the short program to a bronze medal finish would have been essentially impossible under the old scoring system, so I’m glad that he was able to do it here.
I was very nearly 100% in this category. I correctly predicted Davis & White of the U.S. to take gold and Virtue & Moir of Canada to take the silver. I was even right about which country would take the bronze medal. Unfortunately for me, I picked the wrong Russian team. Instead of the bronze medalists at last year’s world championships, Bobrova & Soloviev, it was the younger team of Ilinykh & Katsalapov that performed well enough to make it onto the medal podium. I think we should consider this one 2.5/3, right?
Boy, was I wrong about this one. Still, who could have predicted that Adelina Sotnikova, who has struggled with consistency throughout her young career and has recently been upstaged by another woman from her own country (Julia Lipnitskaia) would beat the likes of Carolina Kostner and Yuna Kim for the gold? This win reminds me very much of Sarah Hughes’ victory at the 2002 Olympics. Sotnikova’s previous competitive record is actually a bit better than Hughes’ was at the time she won gold: Hughes never managed to win a national or world championship to accompany her Olympic title. We shall see if this young Russian is able to build on this massive triumph and pick up more big victories in the future.
For the record, I think that the placements of the top four skaters in this event were correct, though all of the scores seemed to be inflated a bit. (As long as the inflation is equal across the board, it is not a big deal.) I predicted that Yuna Kim would skate cleanly, though not to the level that she did in Vancouver four years ago. I thought that would still be good enough for gold, but on the day it was only good enough for silver. What a joy to see Carolina Kostner finally get an Olympic medal with two beautiful skates – I am happy to be wrong about that one. Poor Mao Asada! No one could have predicted such a terrible short program, but I am glad that she redeemed herself in the free skate. She is a great champion.