Figure skaters win Canada 1st gold medal at PyeongChang Olympics

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Pyeongchang, Feb 12 (IANS) Canada grabbed its first gold medal at PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the figure skating team event on Monday with strong and balanced performances.

Canada took the lead in the team standings since the opening day on Friday and scored 73 points — seven more than defending champion and second-placed Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR), reports Xinhua news agency.

The United States took home their second bronze medal in the event with 62 points. Italy settled for the fourth and Japan the fifth.

The team event is contested by 10 teams. Each team is composed of one man, one woman, and one pair, who will complete a short program, and one ice dance couple who will complete a short dance. The top five out of 10 teams after the short program/short dance qualify for the free skating/free dance segment.

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Rebounding from a tumbling short programme, the Sochi silver medallist Patrick Chan earned his first-ever Olympic gold medal by helping Canada to secure the lead in the team standings with a season best 179.75 points in men’s free skating.

Mikhail Kolyada of the OAR came after Chan with 173.57 points and American Adam Rippon finished third with 172.98 points.

The 27-year-old Chan, despite an unfinished combination of triple Axel plus single loop plus triple Salchow jumps, managed to make up his lost technical score with an additional double toeloop jump to a planned triple Flip jump.

Canada surrendered to the Russians to win the silver medal in team event in Sochi, but came to PyeongChang with stronger determination, according to Chan, who attributed the championship to “team work” .

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“We saw the potential we had in Sochi and didn’t capitalise on it. This time we really want to nail it into the coffin and win this thing. It’s such an exhilarating feeling because we’re such a tight-knit team,” he said.

Vancouver Games ice dance champion pair Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir harvested their second Olympic gold, while capturing the ice dance free dance with a confident and dynamic performance, scoring 118.10 points.

Brother and sister pairing Maia and Alex Shibutani of the United States took the second with 112.01 points, as Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev of OAR settled for the third with 110.43 points.

In the women’s free skating, talented Alina Zagitova, who is only 15 years old, showed the OAR’s strength with a flawless program to score her season best 158.08 points, earning 10 points for her team.

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Skating to Miss Saigon, Mirai Nagasu of the United States also refreshed her season best to come second with 137.53 points. Canadian Gabrielle Daleman scored 137.14 points.

“Honestly, I only realised last night that I am at the Olympic Games. I got up in the morning and realised that I have to skate well and not let the team down and do the maximum,” said Zagitova.

The teenager is satisfied with her Olympic debut and is looking forward to “enjoying” the coming individual event.

–IANS

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