Posted: 7:01 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014
By James Dator
A new event in Sochi will mean Olympic gold is on the line in the first day of competition.
Figure skating has been a long-time staple of the Winter Olympics, but the IOC has re-contextualized the sport to add a new event for Sochi: team figure skating.
The action begins before the Opening Ceremony on Friday night with the Short Program Men and Short Program Pairs having early medal implications on the first day of competition. One athlete will represent each country in the event, meaning consistency is just as important as posting a high score.
Jeremy Abbott will start the event for Team USA, and the 28-year-old will hope he can replicate his second-place finish at the Trophée Eric Bompard in 2012-13. Regular success in international competition has evaded Abbott since his stellar 2008-09 season that saw him win at the Grand Prix Finals and Cup of China.
He finished sixth in his personal event for Team USA last year, but he did enough to help USA win the World Team trophy.
The best chance to grab an early lead in team figure skating will come in the Short Program Pairs when Marissa Cappelli and Simon Shnapir take to the ice later in the evening. The pair won the Ice Challenge in 2012-13 and finished fifth in their event, helping propel Team USA to a win in the world championships.
Canada represents the biggest threat to Team USA's chances, finishing six points behind in the 2012-13 team in the ISU team trophy.
Short Program Men begins at 10:30 a.m. ET, followed by Short Program Pairs at 12:10 p.m. ET. The events will not be shown on TV live, but NBC will show the events beginning at 8 p.m. ET.