Ice Dance and Women’s singles closed the Team Event.
Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto danced to the Japanese themed Memoirs of a Geisha and added six points to their nation’s score. The couple worked with Kabuki actors on the dance movements and her costume to make the program very authentic. China’s Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu chose music by the Piano Guys adding seven points to the Olympic host country’s score.
Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier used Paul McCartney’s “The Long Winding Road” as a vehicle of reflection on their eleven year skating journey together. The performance garnered eight points for Canada. The ROC team of Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov finished second and claimed nine points. The reining World Champions danced to selections by Sergei Rachmaninov.
The final team competed in outer space and taught the world a lesson about love and acceptance. Madison Chock & Evan Bates immersed in the roles of an alien and astronaut danced away to the music of Deft Punk. The duo received the top score (129.07) and earned 10 points for Team USA. The Ice Dance results changed the teams’ order again: ROC (64), USA (58), JPN (54), CAN (45), CHN (44).
The Women’s Free Skate marked the end of the 2022 Team Event. Skating last, Kamila Valieva’s planned three quad Boléro program earned a standing ovation from the scattered few allowed in to the Capital Indoor Stadium. This was in spite of a rare fall on the 4T combination. The fifteen year old set a record as the first woman to do a quad at the Olympics…and she completed two. She earned ten more points and the gold medal for her ROC teammates.
Kaori Sakamoto of Japan scored 148.66 for second place and nine points, followed by Canada’s Madeline Schizas with 132.04 and eight points.
USA’s Karen Chen skated to “Butterfly Lovers (Violin Concerto) performed by Takako Nishuzaki scoring 131.52 and fourth place with seven points and guaranteed the USA the silver medal. Zhu Yi contributed six points to the Chinese team.
The final order for the 2022 Olympic Team Event ROC (74), USA (65), JPN (63), CAN (53), CHN (50).
Immediately after the competition, each of the medalists – ROC, USA, JPN – received a plush toy panda, stuffed inside a plastic shell that is meant to represent ice. Bing (the mascot) means ice in Chinese. The heart on Bing Dwen Dwen’s left palm signifies China’s hospitality.
There was no mascot in Squaw Valley where I attended the 1960 Winter Olympics. The first “character” as it was called popped up in Grenoble, France in 1968. Shuss was a small man on skis named because of his bent knees position.
The 1960 Games debuted female speed skating and biathlon. It made Olympic history with three ski jumps and was the first to use a computer (IBM) to tabulate results.
In addition to those “firsts”, Squaw Valley paved the way with separate on-site housing for the Winter Games athletes. Compare that to 2022, where there are three separate resident locations.
Beijing Village provides 2300 beds for predominately ice sports athletes. There are 2640 competitors in freestyle skiing, snow boarding, biathlon, ski jumping and cross country skiing at Zhangjiakou Village. The third, Yanqing Village houses the 1430 alpine skiing, luge, bobsleigh and skeleton athletes and team officials.
Of course, there was no Team Event back in 1960 since it just made its debut in Sochi, Russia 2014.
In 1960, the host country’s hockey team pulled off the first “Miracle on Ice” when a bunch of home grown amateurs and college kids beat the Soviet Union team 3-2, followed by a 9-4 win over Czechoslovakia claiming the gold medal. Two of those players were the Cleary brothers from my home town – Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Flash forward to 2022. China had previously offered a group of former North American NHL players 2-year contracts to play in a Russian league, and then compete at the Beijing Olympics with Chinese passports.
International Ice Hockey Federation rules allow players to represent a country if they’ve spent at least two years living there and playing for the national team. Each player has kept his home citizenship. The team faltered 8-0 in their debut against the USA.
It’s time now for me to put the 1960 photos and memorabilia back on the shelf and concentrate on the 2022 individual figure skating events. First up will be the Rhythm Dance. Twenty three athletes with vie for the opportunity to compete in the Free Dance.