Tuesday, March 28

Elliott: Evan Bates and Madison Chock put on an otherworldly show to help USA take silver

An astronaut and an alien eloquently danced about the power of love and Karen Chen discovered the power of redemption, two seemingly unrelated concepts that somehow came together Monday to propel the USA to silver in the event. of the Olympic figure skating team.

“Astronaut” Evan Bates teamed up with “alien” Madison Chock from Redondo Beach to perform an exquisite free dance to Daft Punk music and defeat reigning world champions, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Chock and Bates practically achieved the silver medal by performing the highest scoring free dance and obtaining a personal best of 129.07 points. But Chen, who was upset with herself after falling on a familiar jump in her short program on Sunday, added a nice touch in the latter phase of the event with a free skate program that had some minor flaws but was otherwise riveting. .

The Russian Olympic Committee won the three-day team event with 74 points, 65 for the US and 63 for Japan. The United States had won the bronze medal in the previous two team events, at Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018, and Bates was proud to have helped the Beijing team improve on the results of its predecessors.

Ukraine's Anton Dukach zips past the Olympic rings during a men's bobsled training race in 2022.

Coverage of the Beijing Olympics

“I think a silver medal is something to be incredibly proud of,” said Bates, a four-time Olympian who became the oldest Olympic medalist in any US figure skating discipline at age 32. “It feels great to contribute in a meaningful way. ”

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The only hiccup of the day for the Americans was that Vincent Zhou, who competed in the men’s free skate on Sunday and is scheduled to compete in the men’s singles event starting Tuesday, tested positive for coronavirus in a routine daily test conducted on Sunday. . According to US Figure Skating, Zhou was undergoing additional tests to confirm his status. If those results are negative, he will be allowed to skate on Tuesday.

Bates acknowledged that the concept of the pair’s astronaut-alien free dance was “outside the box”. Chock initially feared that it might have been too much for the judges to appreciate.

“At the start of the season, we didn’t know what to expect. We knew we were taking a risk. But we thought, hey, high risk is high reward,” she said. “And we were really into the concept of our show, and we decided that if we committed to it 100%, we could show the world how we felt and hopefully that would resonate with them.”

Oddly enough, and ice dancing has had its share of weird themes, it worked really well. It could even expand the boundaries for future ice dance programs.

Karen Chen performs in the women's free skating portion of the team competition at the Beijing Olympics on Monday.

Karen Chen performs in the women’s free skating portion of the team competition at the Beijing Olympics on Monday.

(Gary Ambrose / For the Times)

“He is ambitious. It’s fast paced. It has a lot of demanding lifts and stuff like that,” Bates said. “It took us a long time to train him to a place where we could deliver him with abandon and emotion, and it finally happened today.”

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Chen’s free skate for “Butterfly Lovers Concerto” ranked fourth. Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee fell in one of her three quad jumps, but she still scored a top score of 178.92 in her spectacular “Bolero” program. Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto and Canada’s Madeline Schizas also scored higher than Chen, but for Chen the day was all about fighting back after falling on her triple jump in the short program.

She didn’t buckle under the pressure on Monday, and she was justifiably proud of herself.

“I definitely felt a little more pressure because I felt like I needed to redeem myself from [Sunday],” she said. “I knew I could have landed that loop. Going out there and doing that is an amazing feeling.”

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, who train at Great Park Ice in Irvine, were unable to recapture the brilliance of their short program performance when they competed in the pairs free skate. Knierim singled on the second jump of a planned triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, struggled to land his triple salchow jump and wobbled landing a pitch, leading to a score of 128.97 for fifth place.

Under the team event scoring system of 10 points for highest ranked performance, nine for second and so on, they scored six points. Reigning world champions Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov of the Russian Olympic Committee had the best score, 145.20, despite falling in an elevator and both ending up on the ice. They were surprised but not injured.

Frazier called the couple’s experience a good one.

“Not our best today in free practice. I lost some points,” he said. “The short film, which we were very proud of. This is how we skate. We know we can do the similar length. We do that a lot in our workouts. I just have to use it a little more. But overall, a lot of positive things and experiences we take away from this weekend of competition.”

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Knierim is also a fan of the team event.

“We love it. We will always raise our hands to participate,” he said.

This time, they grabbed silver in their hands.


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