Of the most popular sports to watch at the Winter Olympics, figure skating has always remained a top contender.
This year, Team USA seems more eager than ever to nab gold medals after being edged out by countries like Canada, the Russian Olympic Committee and Japan at the last Olympics in Pyeongchang. In 2018, the U.S. took home two bronze medals — one for the ice dance event and one for team event.
The U.S. seems to have a strong start so far in the team events, which began on Friday and will conclude on Monday. Individual medal events will commence afterward, with men’s single skating, ice dance, women’s single skating and pair skating to take place from Tuesday to Feb. 19.
Some athletes have returned to the Olympics to redeem themselves from the last Games, while others have arrived as first-time Olympians.
Here, WWD breaks down all you need to know about the figure skaters to watch on Team USA. Scroll on for more.
Nathan Chen, a native of Salt Lake City, kicked off the team events in the men’s single skating short program by taking the number-one spot after his nearly flawless performance, scoring a personal best of 111.71 to win 10 points for Team USA.
Following behind him were Japan’s Shoma Uno and ROC’s Mark Kondratiuk, who scored 105.46 and 95.81, respectively, to take second and third place.
Chen is a favorite to win the gold medal this year, after placing fifth overall in the men’s singles in Pyeongchang at the age of 18. Now, at 22, Chen seems hungry to place in the medal event, and after placing number one overall in the team event, he has set the tone for what fans should expect from him for the rest of the Olympics.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue
Ice dance partners Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are back for retribution.
Last Olympics, the duo ranked fourth in the ice dance event overall, just barely making the cut to place. Instead, sibling partners Maia and Alex Shibutani of the U.S., took home the bronze, with Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron taking gold and silver, respectively.
This time around, Hubbell and Donohue are making it known they are going for the number-one spot. Representing Team USA for the ice dance team event, the two continued the U.S.’s hot streak as they dazzled in an impressive routine to a medley of Janet Jackson songs.
They scored a personal best of 86.56 to take the first-place spot to win the team 10 points, edging out ROC’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri, who took second and third place, respectively.
Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier
Alexa Knierim is returning for another shot at medaling in the pair skating at the winter Olympics, this time with a new partner in Brandon Frazier.
In Pyeongchang, Knierim skated with her husband Chris Knierim as her partner. Though the two did not place, the Knierims became the first American pair, and the second pair ever in history, to execute a quad twist at the Olympics.
With Frazier as Knierim’s partner going into the Beijing Winter Olympics, the two achieved a personal best in the pair skating, scoring 75.00 to take the third-place spot, redeeming herself from placing fourth for the team event last time in Pyeongchang.
At 16, figure skater Alysa Liu is the youngest American competing in Beijing. A two-time U.S. champion in figure skating, Liu was the first female skater to land a triple axel and a quadruple lutz in the same program.
Arriving at her first Olympics, Liu hopes to medal as one of three American women in the women’s singles skating event.
She was favored to win gold at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but after receiving a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, Liu had to withdraw from the competition.
Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble
Timothy LeDuc makes history as the first openly nonbinary athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics. In Beijing, LeDuc hopes to medal with partner Ashley Cain-Gribble in the pair skate event later this month. This marks the first Olympics for the duo.
At the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Cain-Gribble and LeDuc nabbed the first-place spot for the senior pairs event.
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