Okay, so it was less than perfect for the Canadian women in the women’s short program at the Olympics. Note: it was their first Olympics. It was Gabby Daleman’s first senior international competition.
The short program is a tough place for a miscue. It can be costly. Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond’s first triple-triple turned into a triple toe loop – double toe loop in a flash and it’s not a combination that gets a lot of points. Then she slipped off the edge of a double Axel, but sold the rest of the program, well enough to land her in 13th place with 56.18 points. She’s aiming for a top-10 finish at these Games.
Daleman, early out of the box, went for the gusto, and may have tried to make her combo too big. She put a hand down on her triple Lutz, and had the presence of mind to squeeze in her triple toe loop. She’s in 19th place with 52.51 points and hoping for top 15.
“I messed up my Lutz-toe, but I’m still so proud,” Daleman said afterwards.
Above both of them, was worse heartbreak. Mao Asada, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist and an icon in the sport, lost her way, tragically. She had landed a beautiful triple Axel in warmup, and she appeared to be on her way to another during her Chopin routine, when she fell. It seemed to shock her. She did not complete a combination, and then doubled a triple loop. Marks disappeared like water through a sieve. She ended up 16th, almost 20 points behind defending Olympic champion Yu-Na Kim, on top with 74.92, the best short program score of the season.
Asada scored 55.21 points, only 2.70 points ahead of Daleman. She no longer has a shot for a medal.
“I don’t know what to make of this now,” she said. “All I can do is give it everything I have tomorrow. I can’t comprehend any of this.”
She said training had been going well, but when she started the program, she said she couldn’t control her emotions or her body.
“Heartbreaking” Michelle Kwan said in a tweet.
“Mao has a gentle grace… tweeted US pair skater John Coughlin. “I’d have watched if she marked all three jumps.”
Kim had the opposite experience. She was so nervous in the warm-up, that she said she couldn’t jump at all. “But I tried to believe in myself and believe in what I’ve done before,” she said.
When the music started, she said she felt as if she was dreaming.
She skated a winsome, magical routine to “Send in the Clown,” choreographed by Canadian David Wilson, and did a triple Lutz-triple toe loop with ease. Her technical points were higher than her program components by about three points.
Carolina Kostner delivered a memorable moment with her “Ave Maria” routine, not only because it was beautiful, but because she did a very Olympic thing. During the team event, she had done only a triple toe loop – triple toe loop, but she upped the difficulty by doing a triple flip – triple toe loop during the short program Wednesday.
“I didn’t even talk to my coach about changing it,” she said. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m thankful that he left the choice up to me. I wanted to show him that I could do it.” She earned 74.12 points, only about half a point behind Kim.
But Kostner ended up third after Adelina Sotnikova of Russia faced the loud, supportive Russian crowd. Sotnikova did the easier triple toe loop – triple toe loop but still finished second with 74.64, only a quarter of a point behind the defending Olympic champion.
Sotnikova said she was a little nervous, but treated the event like a normal competition. “I was very happy that my technical mark was so high,” she said. (At 39.09, it was .06 of a point higher than Kim’s mark and about 1 ½ points higher than Kostner’s).
And she outshone fellow Russian Julia Lipnikstaia, who had skated both sections of the team event, and had suddenly developed a celebrity status at home. Lipnitskaia is in fifth place with 65.23 points after falling from a triple flip – something she rarely does.
“I don’t know what happened,” she said sadly. “I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t feel too much pressure. The crowd helped me.” The marks weren’t as low as she expected.
US champion Gracie Gold is in fourth place with 68.63 points, about six points back of the leader. “I was happy to perform under the bright lights and stress,” she said “It’s a tough event.”
The other two Americans are right behind her: Ashley Wagner is sixth, while Polina Edmunds is seventh.
The Canadian women have their own goals to achieve in Thursday’s long program. “It definitely wasn’t as good a program as I did in the team event,” Osmond said. “The jumps were a little shaky and I just couldn’t save them today. My components felt great, though. Of course, it’s not what I wanted to do, but I still have one more skate to go. Tomorrow I will focus and let things happen.”
In the kiss and cry, Osmond did not think about her miscues. She thought about what she did well.
Daleman got a season’s best mark of 52.61 and admitted she was a little nervous about what she faced: having her first senior international be the Olympic Games. She said she added more detail to both of her programs since finishing second at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.