Daily Olympic Briefing: Chen vs. Hanyu, U.S. vs. Canada featured on Day 4 schedule

Nathan Chen performs during the men's team short program - Credit: Getty Images

Nathan Chen performs during the men's team short program – Credit: Getty Images

Each day of the 2022 Winter Games, NBC Olympics will run down every sport in action, highlighting the biggest athletes and marquee events. Every single event streams live on NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock, and many are also on the TV networks of NBC. Visit the Olympic schedule page for listings sorted by sport and TV network.

On Day 4, rivalries renew in figure skating (Yuzuru Hanyu vs. Nathan Chen) and hockey (U.S. vs. Canada), while Jessie Diggins and Joey Mantia are the best hopes for the U.S.’ first gold medal.

All times listed below are Eastern Time on the night of Monday, February 7 or the morning of Tuesday, February 8.

Figure Skating

Figure Skating: Men’s Singles
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Men’s Short Program 8:15 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, USA

Ever since Nathan Chen’s disastrous short program at the 2018 Olympics, men’s figure skating has built up to this moment. It’s Chen vs. Yuzuru Hanyu at the Olympics, part two. And this time, both look ready to deliver.

We’ve documented how Chen picked himself up for the greatest free skate in Olympic history in PyeongChang, knowing it wouldn’t be enough to catch Hanyu.

But what about Hanyu, the two-time Olympic champion regarded as the greatest in history? The starting point of his 2022 Olympic story might as well be in Ontario in March 2020.

Jeffrey Buttle, Hanyu’s short program choreographer for the last decade, remembers it.

When the pandemic accelerated and that spring’s world championships were canceled, the international skaters who train at the Toronto Cricket Club went back to their respective countries to ride it out.

“The three weeks that we thought the pandemic was going to last obviously extended far beyond that,” said Buttle, the 2006 Olympic bronze medalist and 2008 World champion for Canada.

Hanyu flew to Japan and hasn’t returned to Toronto. He and Buttle built his short programs the last two seasons via Dropbox.

Buttle filmed himself doing the choreography, then filed it to Hanyu for downloading on the other side of the world. Hanyu repeated the process the other way for feedback.

Doing it live via Zoom wasn’t feasible because of the time difference and sometimes limited rink access.

Pre-pandemic, it took the pair about a week to piece together a program when doing it in person. Virtually, it took three weeks.

“Something that we often forget is the instantaneous praise and criticism,” from working in person, Buttle said. “Once you see video, and then two days later, you’re getting the feedback, it’s just not the same. But with him it was very manageable.”

Hanyu topped the short program at the March 2021 World Championships, but was flawed in the free skate. Chen outscored him by 39.83 points to easily make up the deficit and win his third world title.

Hanyu then suffered a right ankle sprain and didn’t compete at all this past autumn, returning for the Japanese Championships on Christmas weekend. He dazzled there and even tried the unprecedented quadruple Axel.

It wasn’t fully rotated, and thus downgraded to a triple, but he put it to his feet and the message was clear: Hanyu was back, even if he downplayed expectations.

“As it is right now, I think the chances of me losing [at the Olympics] are, without a doubt, higher than they were at PyeongChang,” he said then in Japanese.

Buttle gave Hanyu some feedback and alterations to their short program after nationals. He stressed the skater’s recent focus has been on technical content.

To that end, it’s unknown how much involvement Hanyu’s longtime Toronto-based coach Brian Orser has recently had. Orser hasn’t been available for interviews, according to the club.

“Brian was making the best of it,” Buttle said of the pandemic, “staying up at all hours of the night trying to Zoom coach his athletes around the world.”

In 2018, Hanyu was unable to do jumps until a month before the Olympics due to another right ankle injury. Yet Buttle remembers the skater doing run-through after run-through of his programs, without jumps, so he had the stamina once his ankle was ready for the pounding.

Then Hanyu repeated as Olympic champion.

“I really don’t think there’s anyone with the mental capacity in skating, maybe since Yevgeny [Plushenko],” Buttle said. “If someone can fly by the seat of their pants, it’s Yuzu. He’ll be ready, mentally and physically.”

Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing: Men’s super-G
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Men’s super-G
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