Editor’s note: Each and every day of the 2022 Winter Games, NBCOlympics.com will break down the biggest overnight stories from across the competition landscape that you might have missed. A separate daily article will also detail what not to miss over the next day of competition.
Ahead of the Opening Ceremony later in the day, the Winter Olympics featured a light slate of competition on Friday, headlined by the start of figure skating’s team event alongside a couple games in women’s hockey and mixed doubles curling. Here’s a look at what you may have missed…
So far, history is not repeating itself for vaunted U.S. skater Nathan Chen.
In 2018, Chen’s Olympic short program was beset by mistakes in both the team event and the men’s singles competition. The U.S. overcame that setback to earn a bronze medal in the team event, but Chen left PyeongChang without an individual medal despite his status as a favorite.
Since then, Chen has been the most dominant skater in men’s singles, and he’s entered the 2022 Winter Games as a heavy gold medal favorite — so long as he can avoid the problems that plagued him four years ago.
So far, so good after Chen not only set a personal best, but earned the second highest short program score in history when he took the ice for his portion of the team competition. Skating to Charles Aznavour’s version of “La Boheme,” Chen scored 111.71 points to beat out Japan’s Shoma Uno and ROC’s Mark Kondratyuk for the top score.
Chen’s win gave the U.S. an early lead in the team event, one that would hold up over the rest of the night thanks to help from his teammates.
First, ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, skating to a Janet Jackson medley, earned 85.56 points to win the rhythm dance segment. Then Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, who missed this year’s U.S. Championships after Frazier tested positive for COVID, followed that up with a third-place result in the pairs short program segment. Both duos set international personal bests with their routines.
With 28 points, the U.S. leads the team event standings after three of eight segments. ROC (26 points) sits two points back, though the gap could have been even closer. The Americans benefitted from a close battle atop the pairs short program standings which ended with China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong edging out Russian pair Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov by less than two-tenths of a point for the top score. (The scores that skaters receive don’t directly factor into the final results. Instead, teams receive points based on the finishing order of each segment.)
The team event resumes on Sunday (Saturday night in the U.S.) with the women’s short program and men’s free skate.
The mixed doubles curling round robin tournament continued Friday in Beijing and when the rocks cleared, Italy’s pair of Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner were left as the lone undefeated team atop the standings at 4-0.
In a back-and-forth affair, Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys of the United States were able to defeat Sweden in extra ends, 8-7, to secure a much-needed victory. The U.S. pair is now 2-2 and currently sits in fifth place.
The thrilling game featured four lead changes before Sweden scored the two points they needed to force a ninth and decisive end.
Great Britain (3-1), Canada (3-1) and Sweden (3-2) sit in second, third and fourth, respectively.
The United States will be back in action against host nation China at 1:05 a.m. ET.
The 2022 Winter Olympics women’s hockey tournament continued with two games Thursday evening into Friday morning.
The ROC defeated Switzerland, 5-2, behind a hat trick from Polina Bolgareva.
After both teams earned 5-2 victories in their Olympic openers, the Russians and the Americans are tied for second place in Group A.
Denmark made history when Malene Frandsen tallied the nation’s first goal in Olympic history, though host nation China came away with the 3-1 victory.
China is 1-1 and in third place in Group B.
The women’s hockey tournament skates on Friday night with three games. Canada (1-0) faces Finland (0-1) at 11:10 p.m. ET. And, later at 3:40 a.m. ET, Japan (1-0) takes on Denmark (0-1) while Czech Republic (1-0) battles Sweden (0-1).