Jeremy Abbott's Fall Dampens US Hope For Gold in Team Figure Skating

Image: Jeremy Abbott's Fall Dampens US Hope For Gold in Team Figure Skating

Friday, 07 Feb 2014 01:10 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Jeremy Abbott's fall and a poor showing from the top pairs team left the U.S. in seventh place after Thursday's round of team figure skating competition at the Sochi Olympics.

Now, for the U.S. to have any chance at all of contending for a gold, Ashley Wagner will have to ace her routine on Saturday.

This is the first year for team figure skating at the Olympics. The competition allows each country to enter a short and long program in each of the four disciplines — men's, women's, pairs, and ice dancing.

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Abbott, who fell into the boards attempting a quad jump on Thursday, said he hopes to redeem himself in the individual competition.

"I really wanted to pull out a win for my friends and for my family. That was very important to me. I'm torn apart I couldn't do that for them," he told reporters after his routine. "But for me, I feel like it was a very positive step. You're all going to think I'm crazy. I just fell on my butt and did a horrible program, but I have another chance next week."

The hometown Russians now lead the team competition after the pairs and men's short programs on Thursday, which were highlighted by a second-place finish from three-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko and a win from world pairs champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, according to The Associated Press. They combined for 19 points — 10 for first place and nine for second — to lead Canada by two points.

The U.S., Germany, and France each have 10 points, though the U.S. sits in seventh place because of the ties.

"We have some great skaters coming up," U.S. team member Marissa Castelli, who also made major mistakes during her pairs performance with partner Simon Shnapir Thursday, told reporters. "We're really hoping to pull up."

U.S. skaters Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the reigning world ice dance champions, have yet to skate, as has Wagner, who won a medal at the Grand Prix for two straight years and finished fifth at last year's world championships.

Wagner said she wants to make her spot on the Sochi team count.

"Going home from nationals, [coach Rafael Arutunian] said, 'OK, what do you want to do?' I said, 'You know what? I'm yours. Tell me what to do. I'll do everything you want me to do. Just make me someone who is worthy of being at the Olympics,'" Wagner told reporters this week.

"We went home and it was the most miserable three weeks of my life, to be completely honest," she said. "But he got me to the point that I feel so comfortable and prepared being here. I feel like I'm a completely different skater."

The competition continues Saturday with ice dance, the women's short program, and the pairs free skate; it ends Sunday with the other three long programs.

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