Fourteen years on from Beijing staging the Summer Games, this week sees the Chinese capital become the first city to also host the Winter Olympics.
When is it on?
Figure skating at this year’s Winter Olympics begins Friday, 4 February with the team event and concludes Sunday, 20 February with the exhibition gala.
Who is skating?
Entries in each discipline are strictly capped with just 30 skaters in the men and women singles event, 19 pairs, 23 ice dance teams and just 10 countries participating in the team event.
This will be the third time the team event will be held at the Olympics. The Russian Olympic Committee and American teams look like pretty good bets for gold and silver. Canada is the reigning champion from PyeongChang, but their hopes of making the podium are in jeopardy due to the retirement of almost their entire winning contingent from 2018 with pairs skater Eric Radford is the sole survivor. Japan could take their first medal in the event with their strong roster of singles skaters and a good showing by their pairs and ice dancers.
The individual men’s event looks set to be a showdown between the U.S.A. and Japan. Two-time defending champion Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) will be aiming to make history by becoming the first skater to land a quadruple Axel. The Japanese superstar is in the unusual position of coming into Beijing as an underdog as three-time World champion Nathan Chen (USA) is the favourite to win the Olympic title this time round. Vincent Zhou (USA) is the only skater to have beaten Chen since the 2018 Olympics with a stunning victory at this season’s Skate America last October. Since taking silver in PyeongChang four years ago, Shoma Uno (JPN) has had his ups and downs. This season he has seemed to have gotten his groove back after moving to train with Stephane Lambiel in Switzerland. Uno finished second behind Zhou at Skate America and then beat Zhou at NHK Trophy in November. Yuma Kagiyama (JPN) captured a sensational silver medal at the 2021 World Championships and won both of his Grand Prix assignments this season. The 2020 Youth Olympic champion is definitely in the running for a spot on the podium. Mark Kondratiuk (ROC) added his name to the list of contenders having come out of nowhere this season to pick up both the Russian and European titles.
In a turn up for the books, ice dance could perhaps be the most unpredictable event of the Games with the two leading contenders not having faced each other over the past two seasons. 2018 silver medallists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) will be hoping China brings them luck again as they took their first Grand Prix and World titles in the country. The four-time World champions decided to skip last month’s European Championships in Tallinn, Estonia out of an abundance of caution due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. In their absence, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov (ROC) took their second European title. The Russians are the only team to have defeated the French since the PyeongChang Olympics. As always, there will be a strong North American ice dance contingent. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (USA) are the reigning World silver medallists, while Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA) finished ahead of their American teammates at the U.S. Championships last month to take the national title. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (CAN) claimed bronze at the 2021 World Championships and are Canada’s brightest hope for an individual medal in Beijing.
In the women’s event, it is hard to see anything other than a clean sweep of the podium for the Russian Olympic Committee. Kamila Valieva (ROC) has been breaking records all season and is undefeated in her debut season as a senior skater. 2021 World champion Anna Shcherbakova (ROC) has struggled somewhat this season placing third at Russian Nationals and second at last month’s Europeans. Alexandra Trusova (ROC) comes to Beijing with an array of quadruple jumps to choose from in her arsenal and could provide an upset if she can successfully land them all in her free skating. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) and Loena Hendrickx (BEL) are among the skaters who may be able to capitalise should any catastrophes befall any of the three Russians.
Chinese hopes for a gold medal in figure skating will be highest in the pairs event. After coming so close to victory in PyeongChang, Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (CHN) will be seeking their own fairytale ending this time round in front of their home crowd. The biggest threat to the Chinese will come from a triumvirate of Russian pairs. Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov (ROC) defeated Sui and Han at the 2021 World Championships and have looked supreme ever. In the past two months, they have added the Russian and European titles to their collection. After just missing out on the podium in PyeongChang, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (ROC) will be in the hunt for medals again. The duo recorded a brand new set of personal bests at the European Championships last month. 2020 European champions Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii (ROC) could only manage third at 2022 Europeans largely due a doubled Salchow in the short programme, but they cannot be discounted for a medal.
Everything you need to know (and some things you did not) about the skaters, the competition schedule and results can be viewed here.
When is the skating on?
Thanks to the demands of different television markets figure skating events will take place both in the morning and evening in Beijing. The former will be great and the latter not so great for watching in North America and vice versa for Europe. The times listed for the Winter Olympics are local and if you want to know what the time difference is between where you are and Beijing then this link is your friend.
Where can I watch the pretty skaters?
The official Olympic website has a definitive list of who networks broadcasting Beijing 2022 where you live.
What are the hashtags?