Canada showed that sending out your best is a winning strategy, easily taking the gold medal in the team figure skating event Monday.
Patrick Chan placed first in the men’s free skate, and the ice dancing superstars Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue won the free dance to give Canada the comfortable victory.
The team of Russians won the silver medal thanks in part to a first place by Alina Zagitova in the women’s free skate. The United States was third, led by Mirai Nagasu, who gave a near-perfect performance that included an extremely difficult triple axel, eight years after her last Olympic appearance.
Several nations steered away from their A-teams, at least for the climactic free skates. Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia, both gold medal favorites in their individual events, and Nathan Chen of the United States did not appear for the free skates, though Medvedeva and Chen had skated in the short program.
Canada had come into the final day with the lead, and never was in danger of losing it, especially after Chan’s opening win. A third place by Gabrielle Daleman in the women’s event was not enough to stop their momentum, and another strong performance by Virtue and Moir locked up the big win.
“I think we had a sour taste in our mouth since Sochi (Canada took silver at the 2014 Games),” Moir said. “We wanted this medal for four years. It feels great.”
Women: Mirai Nagasu Nails Triple Axel for U.S.
Despite finishing third at the national championships in 2014, Mirai Nagasu was passed over for an Olympic berth. Now, finally back at the Olympics four years later, Nagasu gave a near-perfect performance, starting with a triple axel, a move few women can land. (The Associated Press reported that only Midori Ito and Mao Asada of Japan have done it at the Olympics before.) Before the routine was even over, Nagasu was visibly exulting, and her score reflected the impressive performance.
“Four years ago, when I was left off the team, I wanted to make another Olympic team, and I knew I would really have to be something special,” she said. “So to become the first American to land a triple axel at the Olympic Games is historical, and no one can take that away from me.”
Nagasu placed second to the Russian Alina Zagitova.
Men: Canada Tightens Grip on Lead
Patrick Chan of Canada fell, but his lyrical performance to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” was good enough to place first, nearly locking up the gold medal for Canada. The Russian Mikhail Kolyada fell on one jump and stumbled on another, but managed second place.
Adam Rippon skated a clean performance with less difficulty, placing third for the United States. That keeps the U.S. in good position for a bronze medal.