On the first day of the new Olympic team figure skating event, the United States was tied for the fifth-most points after short programs for the men and pairs, technically resting in seventh after tiebreakers among 10 nations.
Only the top five countries advance to the free skates, a cut made after the women and ice dancers complete their short programs on Saturday. But the Americans are hardly in a precarious position, because they boast the reigning world ice dancing champs in Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
Russia leads with 19 points, and the other favorite, Canada, has 17. The US earned just 10 Thursday, but has better balance then most of the squads ahead of it, and two wins from its ice dancers would be worth 20 points.
Still, after the falls and botched jumps from US champions Jeremy Abbott and the pairs team of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, bronze may be the Americans’ best hope. Abbott crashed into the boards after falling on his opening quad jump and finished the short program with 65.65 points, seventh among the men. US runner-up Jason Brown is likely to replace him in Sunday’s free skate in the event.
Castelli and Shnapir, New Englanders competing in their first Olympics, were fifth among the pairs with a personal-best 64.25 points in an international event. Castelli fell and Shnapir put his hand down on their side-by-side triple salchows, but they were solid enough overall to solidify the Americans’ spot in the standings after Abbott’s scuffles.
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