Sport in the Spotlight: Figure Skating
Figure Skating

Sport in the Spotlight: Figure Skating

28 January 2018 / 17:23

THE SPORT 

Figure skating is the oldest sport at the Olympic Winter Games, having formed part of the summer programme at London 1908 before featuring again at Antwerp 1920.

The sport was then among the original seven at the very first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924 and it has stayed ever since.

Three events were contested for the first 11 editions – men’s, ladies’ and pairs – with ice dance introduced at Innsbruck 1976. Sochi 2014 then saw the introduction of a team event, with Russia taking gold.

Only Team GB and the USA have competed in figure skating at every single Olympics where it has featured.

THE SCHEDULE

February 9

Men’s Team Event – Single Short Programme – 10:00-13:30 (01:00-04:30 UK time)

Mixed Team Event – Short Programme – 10:00-13:30 (01:00-04:30 UK time)

February 11

Mixed Team Event – Ice Dance Short Dance – 10:00-14:40 (01:00-05:40 UK time)

Women’s Team Event – Single Short Programme – 10:00-14:40 (01:00-05:40 UK time)

Mixed Team Event – Pairs Free Skating – 10:00-14:40 (01:00-05:40 UK time)

February 12

Men’s Team Event –Single Free Skating – 10:00-13:25 (01:00-04:25 UK time)

Women’s Team Event – Single Free Skating – 10:00-13:25 (01:00-04:25 UK time)

Mixed Team Event – Ice Dance Free Dance – 10:00-13:25 (01:00-04:25 UK time)

February 14

Pairs Short Programme – 10:00-13:35 (01:00-04:35 UK time)

February 15

Pairs Free Skating – 10:30-13:55 (01:00-04:55 UK time)

February 16

Men’s Single Short Programme – 10:00-14:30 (01:00-05:30 UK time)

February 17

Men’s Single Free Skating – 10:00-14:25 (01:00-05:25 UK time)

February 19

Mixed Ice Dance Short Dance – 10:00-13:45 (01:00-04:45 UK time) – Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland

February 20

Mixed Ice Dance Free Dance – 10:00-13:45 (01:00-04:45 UK time) – Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland

February 21

Women’s Single Short Programme – 10:00-14:30 (01:00-05:30 UK time)

February 23

Women’s Single Free Skating – 10:00-14:15 (01:00-05:15 UK time)

HOW TEAM GB HAS FARED IN THE PAST

Team GB have a pedigree in figure skating, having won 15 Olympic Winter Games medals in the sport in total – with six coming from London 1908.

Ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean are the last British skaters to win a medal, having won bronze at Lillehammer 1994, while they are also the last to win gold, following their historic performance to Bolero at Sarajevo 1984.

That gold was Team GB’s third successive figure skating triumph at the Games, with Robin Cousins claiming the men’s title at Lake Placid 1980 and John Curry starting it all off by winning the same crown at Innsbruck 1976.

BRITWATCH

Nick Buckland

Nick Buckland will compete in the ice dance alongside Penny Coomes in PyeongChang and it was always likely that he would pursue a career as a figure skater, given the sport is entrenched in the family.

Buckland’s mother, Jean, was an ice dancer, his younger brother, Joseph, is also a figure skater while his grandad Bryan was a speed skater.

Buckland teamed up with Coomes in 2005, made his Winter Olympic debut with her in 2010 and the duo finished tenth four years later at Sochi 2014, having undergone life-saving cardiac surgery to treat an irregular heartbeat in the run up to the latter.

It was that year when the skater claimed the first Grand Prix medal of his career with Coomes, when they secured bronze at the 2014 European Championships in Budapest.

After winning the 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy, Buckland and Coomes were selected for their third Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. Their preparations included a seventh-place finish at last month’s European Championships.

Penny Coomes

Born in Maidenhead, Penny Coomes took up skating at the Slough Ice Arena aged eight and will compete in a third Olympic Winter Games at PyeongChang 2018 alongside Nick Buckland, in the ice dance.

Coomes teamed up with Buckland in 2005 having met him at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham and triumphed at the 2008 British Junior Championships despite having a broken foot.

The pair competed at both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games, where they finished 20th and tenth in the standings respectively.

Coomes also won a bronze medal with Buckland at the 2014 European Championships in Budapest, adding to several other international medals that she has won throughout her career.

Having overcome a serious knee injury to win the 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy, Coomes was selected alongside Buckland for a third Olympic Winter Games at PyeongChang 2018.

WHO IS THE COMPETITION?

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir

The youngest champions in Olympic Winter Games ice dancing history when they triumphed at Vancouver 2010 aged 20 and 22 respectively, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir also clinched double silver at Sochi 2014 (ice dance and team competition) before retiring from the sport.

But the Canadians returned two years later, promptly went unbeaten during the 2016/17 season, won their third world title in April 2017 and posted a new world record total score of 199.89 at Skate Canada last October (which has since been beaten).

It’s as if they’ve never been away and they head to PyeongChang as one of two pairs much-fancied for ice dance gold.

Gabriela Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron

The other pair who enter PyeongChang as favourites for ice dance gold are Gabriela Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron – the French duo having beaten Virtue and Moir’s world record by scoring 202.16 at the Grand Prix Final in Nagoya last month.

In the absence of their Canadian rivals, Papadakis and Cizeron won the 2015 and 2016 world titles and dominated the Grand Prix scene, so will now be desperate to claim an Olympic medal for the first time.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani

Much like Papadakis and Cizeron, the Shibutani siblings will be looking for a first Winter Olympic Games medal in PyeongChang next month.

The American duo burst on to the scene by taking ice dance bronze at the 2011 World Championships when Maia was only 16 and have won silver and bronze in the discipline at the past two World Championships.

Sportsbeat 2018

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