The second day began with the USA leading the point count (28), followed by ROC (26), CHN (21), JPN (20) and ITA (18). Defending gold medalists, CAN had 16 points. The Women skated their Short Programs, followed by the Men opening the second phase of the Team Event.

Zhu Yi (CHN), who skated first was born in Los Angeles to Chinese immigrant parents. Beverly Zhu (her American name) won the Novice gold medal at the 2018 US Championships in San Jose. She is now a Chinese citizen. After her skate, the “upset and embarrassed” Zhu analyzed her performance.

“The first combination happened so fast. When I landed the flip, it felt nice, and I felt like I could totally pull off the toe loop, but it didn’t happen. Then because I missed the first jumps, I was kind of frazzled. I felt a lot of pressure on landing that last jump, and unfortunately I popped it.”

Canada needed an outstanding performance from its Women’s single entry. Madeline Schizas delivered big time with a season best 69.60 score for a third place finish. The eight points were enough to vault the Canadian team into fourth place.

“It’s my first skate at my first Olympic Games. It’s almost surreal to be here, and I was really excited to support my team. I was a little bit nervous before today, but my team gave me so much support, and I just loved the experience.”

Anastasia Gubanova, representing Georgia scored 67.56 points to boost her new country into a fifth place tie with China. According to a December 2021 interview with the former Russian skater’s battle late last year with Covid-19 hit her lungs and breathing very hard.

Wakabe Higuchi performed a powerful second place program for nine points moving Japan into the third spot. The program scored 74.73 for the 2022 Japanese National silver medalist, who had missed being named to the 2018 Olympic Team by one placement.

American Karen Chen had a difficult fifth place skate that earned only six points dropping Team USA a notch.

“There were some positive takeaways for sure, and then some things that were silly mistakes that I haven’t been making in practice. My practices have been feeling really solid, but today, once I realized I’m competing, it felt a little bit different.”

Fifteen-year-old Russian phenom Kamila Valieva skated last. Her 90.18 score leap-frogged the ROC team to the top of the leader board. She is the fourth woman to do a triple axel in Olympic competition, joining Midori Ito (1992), Mao Asada (2010) and Mirai Nagasu (2018).

Halfway through the Team Event, the rankings were: ROC (36), USA (34), JPN (29), CAN (24), CHN (22), GEO (22), ITA (20), CZE (15), GER (8) and UKR (8). Only the five top teams move on to the final segment.

Georgia and China had the same scores (22), but the latter won the tiebreaker with the higher sum of each team’s top two placements. CHN: Pairs (10) + Dance (6) = 16. GEO: Men’s (7) + Women’s (7) = 14.

One advantage to being at home during these Olympics is access to my kitchen. So during the breaks, sandwiches are made, popcorn is popped and my Hibiscus iced tea is refreshed. 

It also gives me a chance to catch up via messages with my IDC teammates – those in the US and the photographers in Beijing. Melanie (Heaney), Danielle (Earl) and Robin (Ritoss) prove every day “A picture is worth a thousand words”. A shout out to Daphne (Backman) for all her postings and Gina at Figure Skaters Online for her technical expertise. It’s been a TEAM effort.

After the Zamboni resurfacing, the Men began the final phase of the competition.

~ Anne